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 Questions Answered here:
- How does AIE work?
- How can I make an AIE Request to PIAB?
- Is there a charge?
- Can I get access to any information that I seek?
- What if I am not satisfied with the decision on my AIE request?
- What if I am not satisfied with the decision on internal review?
- Where can I get more information on AIE?[DL1]
How does AIE work?
The AIE Regulations require public bodies to respond to an AIE request within 4 weeks of receiving it.
How can I make a AIE Request to PIAB?
You should send a request either, in writing or by email, to:
Information on the Environment,
PO Box 9732,
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;
- 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.
Is there a charge?
There is no initial fee for making an application under the AIE Regulations.
However, PIAB 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.
Can I get access to any information that I seek?
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.
What if I am not satisfied with the decision on my AIE request?
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
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.
What if I am not satisfied with the decision on internal review?
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.
Where can I get more information on AIE?
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.