After 18 months of being messed about with named documents which officials didn't provide repeatedly and claims that documents had been destroyed or lost (as it finally turned out - they weren't) - we made a complaint to the Information Commissioner.
The Information Commissioner's Office investigated the activities of The Environment Agency regarding FoI compliance and produced the report attached to this page. It is clear that The Information Commissioner was unimpressed....
"A requester should not have to approach the ICO in order to have his/her request for information properly and appropriately addressed. They are entitled to expect the public authority to provide a proper and accurate response in the first instance (even if the requester might not agree with that response, such as any exceptions claimed). It is clearly not acceptable that what began as a relatively straightforward EIR request(s) should have taken over 18 months to be properly complied with, and then only due to intervention by the Commissioner"
We think it's safe to assume that this report made for uncomfortable reading in some departments at the Environment Agency - but some others were plainly satisfied with the 18 month delay inserted.
We feel that the Environment Agency conducted a purposeful campaign to withhold strategic information which directly impacted on on the court case at Judicial Review and resulted in a bill to the taxpayer/public purse of £20,000++ to reimburse our agent for costs incurred on his part in dealing with the FoI requests.
We have received a formal apology from the EA Chief Excecutive Dr. Paul Leinster, and our initial FoI fee of ~£1000 was returned / refunded.