European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2011 give legal rights to those seeking to access information on the environment from public authorities.
Under these regulations, information relating to the environment held by, or for, a public authority must be made available on request, subject to certain exceptions.
The AIE regulations also oblige public authorities to be proactive in disseminating environmental information to the public.
The AIE Regulations:
- Provide a definition of environmental information;
- Outline the manner in which requests for information may be submitted to public authorities;
- The manner in which public authorities are required to deal with requests e.g. timeframes for response; and,
- Provide for a formal appeals procedure in the event that a person is unhappy with a decision on their request.
AIE offices/bodies under the aegis of this Department
There are a number of offices/bodies under the aegis of this Department which are separate entities for the purpose of AIE and they may hold records of interest to you.
Applications under AIE
Applications for Access to Information on the Environment held by this Department can either be submitted electronically to AIE@enterprise.gov.ie or made in writing to:
Freedom of Information Unit,
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment,
23 Kildare Street,
Compiling your application
When making a request for information under the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations you are required to:
- state that the application is being made under the AIE Regulations;
- provide your contact details;
- state, in terms that are as specific as possible, the environmental information required; and,
- specify the form and manner of access desired.
In general, the Department is required to respond to an AIE request within one month of receipt of the request. Where, due to the complexity or volume of information required, the Department is unable to respond within the one month timeframe, it is required to write to the applicant within the month, indicating when a response will issue. This date should not be more than two months from the receipt of the original request.
If the Department does not have the information you have requested it can either transfer the request to another public authority or advise you of where it believes the request should be directed. In either case, it is required to notify you, the applicant.
There is no initial fee for making an application under the AIE Regulations.
However, the Department may charge a reasonable fee for supplying the information requested. This may include the costs of compiling, copying, printing or posting of information. If an applicant requires hard copies there may be a fee of €0.04 per sheet depending on the volume of information contained in the request.
Grounds for refusing information
There are a number of grounds on which a public authority can refuse information; these include when a body is acting in a legislative or judicial capacity (Article 3(2) of the AIE Regulations) and both mandatory (Article 8) and discretionary (Article 9) grounds for refusing information. When making a decision on whether to release information, a public body is required to consider the provisions in Article 10.
Under Article 11 of the AIE Regulations you have a right to seek an internal review of the initial decision. You may also request an internal review if you have not received a response within the appropriate timeframe.
An internal review must be requested within one month of receipt of the original decision (the Department may extend this timeframe but is not required to do so).
There is no charge for applying for an internal review.
An internal review involves a complete reconsideration of the matter by a member of the staff of the public authority, who may affirm, vary or annul the original decision made.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review, you can appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information (CEI). You must appeal within one month of receiving the decision on the internal review. However, the Commissioner may extend this time limit in individual cases.
It costs €150 to take an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information, or €50 euro if you are the holder, or dependent of a holder of a medical card, or a third party appealing the decision to release certain information.
AIE requests received
The number of AIE requests received by the Department and its agencies since 2015.
Further general information on the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations including background information on the legislation, useful publications and links to other relevant bodies is available from the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications.