Personal information charter

How the Environment Agency (EA) treats your personal information and how to check what details they have for you.


The Environment Agency is committed to the responsible handling and security of personal data. Your privacy is important to us and protected in law through the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018).

We must provide you with information setting out how we process your personal data. This is set out below. This applies to every Environment Agency website, application, product, software, or service that links to it (collectively, our “Services”). A Service will link directly to a specific Privacy Notice that outlines the particular privacy practices of that Service.

When we make changes, we will update the relevant Privacy Notice and do our best to let you know. We can only do this if you let us have your contact details and your preferred forms of communication, and you inform us of any changes to these.


The EU’s Article 29 Data Protection Working Party has issued guidance on transparency requirements necessary to comply with GDPR:

Transparency is an overarching obligation under the GDPR applying to three central areas: (1) the provision of information to data subjects related to fair processing; (2) how data controllers communicate with data subjects in relation to their rights under the GDPR; and (3) how data controllers facilitate the exercise by data subjects of their rights. Insofar as compliance with transparency is required in relation to data processing under Directive (EU) 2016/6803, these guidelines also apply to the interpretation of that principle.

Transparency is a long established feature of the law of the EU5 [France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and United Kingdom]. It is about engendering trust in the processes which affect the citizen by enabling them to understand, and if necessary, challenge those processes. It is also an expression of the principle of fairness in relation to the processing of personal data expressed in Article 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Under the GDPR (Article 5(1) (a) 6), in addition to the requirements that data must be processed lawfully and fairly, transparency is now included as a fundamental aspect of these principles. Transparency is intrinsically linked to fairness and the new principle of accountability under the GDPR. It also follows from Article 5.2 that the controller must be able to demonstrate that personal data are processed in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject."

What is personal data?

Personal data is data that identifies an individual directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as their name or a reference number.

Some personal data is more sensitive in nature and requires more careful handling. GDPR defines “special categories of personal data”, which means data relating to a living person’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data, data concerning health or data concerning someone’s sex life or sexual orientation.

Who does the GDPR apply to?

The ICO has set out its view on who GDPR applies to:

  • The GDPR applies to ‘controllers’ and ‘processors’.
  • A controller determines the purposes and means of processing personal data.
  • A processor is responsible for processing personal data on behalf of a controller.
  • If you are a controller or a processor, the GDPR places specific legal obligations on you; for example, you are required to maintain records of personal data and processing activities. You will have legal liability if you are responsible for a breach.
  • If you are a controller, you are not relieved of your obligations where a processor is involved – the GDPR places further obligations on you to ensure your contracts with processors comply with the GDPR.
  • The GDPR applies to processing carried out by organisations operating within the EU. It also applies to organisations outside the EU that offer goods or services to individuals in the EU.
  • The GDPR does not apply to certain activities including processing for law enforcement purposes, processing for national security purposes and processing carried out by individuals purely for personal/household activities.

What are my rights?

You have rights under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018). These are listed in full on the Information Commissioner’s website at.

How we use your personal data

We process your personal data in a number of ways to deliver our Services. We will look to inform you at the point of collection via a Privacy Notice: the reason(s) we need your information; how your information is being collected; what we will do with it; and who we will share it with. In some cases we may pass it on to our agents/representatives to do these things on our behalf.

When we share personal data

We share or disclose personal data where we are required to so by law or to provide Services to fulfil our public task. Where we know there is a requirement to share your personal data we will tell you why and who we will share your personal data with. We will ensure that data processors (organisations who provide Services on our behalf) agree to handle your personal data in conformity with your rights.

When we publish personal data

Public bodies are required to be transparent, for example about the use of money, and in some cases this may require the publication of personal data. Personal data published in these cases will balance the need for transparency compared to your privacy rights. Examples where we publish personal data are:

  • Senior Executive salaries
  • Public registers
  • Publication of beneficiary information

We may have to release personal data and commercial information under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Anonymized or non-personal data may be shared in support of public tasks, and where possible disclosed under an Open Government Licence.

How long will we keep personal data?

Public bodies retain information for various reasons, primarily to ensure accountability. When we no longer need personal data, arrangements are made to securely delete or destroy it. Records retention periods are set in line with statutory, regulatory, legal or security reasons, or where records have historic value. Details will be on the relevant Privacy Notice.

What if my details are inaccurate or incomplete?

If you discover that the personal data we hold about you is inaccurate, or incomplete, please contact us so we can update your records. When doing so, please explain where you have seen the personal data and what you feel is inaccurate. We will aim to respond to you within one month but may extend this period to two months if the request is complicated. See ‘How to contact us’ below for our contact details.

Where we maintain that the original personal data held is accurate, we will explain why. If you do not agree with our decision, you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office, as detailed in this Personal Information Charter.

How do I ask to see the personal data you hold about me?

You can ask to see what personal data we hold about you. This is called a ‘subject access request’. Send your written request to us by post or email. Our contact details are in the ‘How to contact us’ section below.

On receipt of your request we will acknowledge it and may ask for proof of your identity.

We will respond within one month, and exceptionally extend this by up to two months in complex cases. If we determine that the costs and/or resources required to provide you with all of the personal data requested are excessive, due to the volume, we may have to refuse your request or ask you to provide a contribution to meet these costs. When you ask to see personal data we hold it is helpful to include as much information as possible to help us find it, for example, tell us the functions, schemes, or transactions and dates that you want to know about.

Do you transfer my personal data outside of the European Economic Area?

There are instances where personal data is stored outside the European Economic Area. In most cases personal data is not transferred or stored outside of the European Economic Area. If your personal data is processed outside the United Kingdom or European Economic Area, you will be informed of this and the safeguards that are in place.

You have the right to request that (1) we no longer process your personal data and (2) we delete your personal data at any time. However, agreement may not be assumed as we may have to refuse your request should the personal data be required to comply with a legal obligation, performance of a contract or public interest task, or exercise of official authority. We may also refuse for public health purposes, exercise or defence of legal claims, archiving in the public interest, or for scientific research, historical research or statistical purposes. Where this is the case and agreement is not required we will advise you of this. Prior to deletion we may anonymise and hold data for data analysis.

What are the consequences if I do not supply the requested personal data?

If you do not supply the requested personal data it is possible that the Service you are applying for or wish to use will not be available to you. This may have consequences in terms of non-compliance, for example not complying with specific legislation. We try to ensure that we only collect the minimum amount of personal data that is necessary for us to offer the Service(s) to you.

Will my personal data be used in automated decision making?

Your personal data may be subject to automated decision making. You will be informed where automated decision making applies, including profiling, and the envisaged consequences of such processing.

How do I make a complaint about how my personal data has been handled?

If you think we have misused your personal data or not kept it secure, you should contact us to let us know using the details below.

How to contact us

For day to day enquiries, please look to contact the team that you are already communicating with. They are best placed to manage general enquiries, update the accuracy of your personal data or provide you with information. However, if they cannot help you, or you have a complaint about how your personal data is being handled, please use the following details to be put through to the Data Protection team.

Data Protection team
Environment Agency
Horizon House
Deanery Road
03708 506 506

If relevant, please ensure you include one or more of the following reasons for contacting the Data Protection team:

  • I want to make a complaint about how my personal data has been handled
  • I want to report a data breach
  • My details are inaccurate or incomplete
  • I want to see the personal data you hold about me
  • I want to withdraw my consent or request my personal data be deleted

If you’re unhappy with their response or if you need any advice you should contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) who are the supervisory authority.

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
0303 123 1113

Any complaint to the Information Commissioner is without prejudice to your right to seek redress through the courts. Should you wish to exercise your rights full details are available on the Information Commissioner’s website.

Changes to the Personal Information Charter

We keep our Personal Information Charter under regular review. This Personal Information Charter was last updated on 24 May 2018.