Access to Information on the Environment
Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (external link) of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC
Access to Information on the Environment (AIE)
The European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 133 of 2007), give legal rights to those seeking access to information on the environment from public authorities. These Regulations came into effect on 1 May 2007, repealing the previous legislative instrument, the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 1998. They were amended by the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2011, (S.I. 662 of 2011). Both pieces of legislation are to be read together and to be construed as one and can be referred to as the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2011. An unofficial consolidated version of the Regulations has been prepared for ease of reference. Please note this is not a legal document.
Unofficial Consolidated Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007 - 2011 (pdf, 665kb)
Subject to certain exceptions, information relating to the environment held by, or for, a public authority must be made available on request to any person.
The Regulations provide a definition of environmental information and outline the manner in which requests for information may be submitted to public authorities. The Regulations also provide for a formal appeals procedure in the event that a person is unhappy with a decision on their request.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between AIE and Freedom to Information (FOI)?
The Access to Information on the Environment Regulations operates in parallel with the Freedom of Information Act 1997 and 2003. While the two legislative codes are broadly similar (with respect to environmental information), the AIE Regulations and the FOI Acts differ in that a wider range of public authorities are covered by the AIE Regulations than by the FOI legislation. There are also material differences in the grounds under which access to information can be refused under the two legislative codes.
What public authorities are subject to AIE?
Under the 2011 Regulations, the Minister is required to publish an indicative list of public authorities that are subject to the AIE Regulations. These are:
- Government Departments e.g. the Department of Environment, Community, and Local Government
- Local authorities e.g. Cork County Council
- Non-commercial state agencies e.g. the Environmental Protection Agency
- Commercial state agencies e.g. EirGrid
- Regulatory bodies e.g. the Commission for Energy Regulation
Is there a charge for submitting a request for information under the AIE Regulations?
There is no initial fee required when lodging a request for information under AIE.
Is there a charge for the supply of information under the AIE regulations?
In line with the regulations, a Public authority may however, charge a reasonable fee for supplying environmental information in accordance with the Regulations.
This fee will be calculated upon receipt of a request and is dependant on the volume of work involved in compiling information where it has not been previously available in an accessible format. This fee has been set as 20.95 euro per hour.
If requesters require hard copies there may be a fee of 4c per sheet depending on the volume of information contained in the request and this will be advised in the final decision letter.
The Department has committed to ensuring that the charging of this fee will not, as a general rule, exceed the actual costs of producing the material in question.
Where the estimated cost of supplying information on the environment is likely to exceed 100 euro, a deposit of at least 20% of the total amount will be required. In such cases, the requester will be advised in writing of the position and will be provided with an opportunity to review or amend his/her request. The process will not commence until payment of deposit has been received by the Department. It should also be noted that the date for the final decision on the AIE request (which is normally within one month of receipt by the Department of the request) will be determined by reference to the date of receipt of the deposit payment.
How will the Department supply information free of charge?
It should be noted that fees in respect of supplying information, may be waived where the cost is estimated at less than 10.00 euro.
Where requesters are in a position to view the required documents on site at Department offices there will be no charge for accessing these records however this is separate to the charge noted above.
Electronic access can be provided to requesters free of charge or by CD-ROM containing copy documents again depending on volume.
How do I make an AIE request?
Applications for Access to Information on the Environment should be made to:
AIE Unit Department of Transport, Sport and Tourism,
25 Clare St.
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 and submit it in writing or electronic form (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- 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.
Normally you will be notified of the decision on your request within 1 month of its receipt.
What can I do if I am unhappy with a decision on my request?
If you consider that your original request for environmental information was refused wholly or partially, or was otherwise not properly dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the AIE Regulations, you may, not later than one month following the receipt of the decision of the public authority concerned, request the public authority to carry out an internal review of the decision in part or in whole.
No fee will be charged for the internal review process.
A written outcome of the review informing you of the decision, the reason for the decision and advising you of your right of appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information, including the time limits and fees associated with such an appeal, will be issued to you within one month of the date of receipt of the request.
How do I make an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information?
A written appeal should be submitted to the Commissioner for Environmental Information at the:
Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Telephone: +353 (0)1 639 5689
Further contact details and information on the Commissioner's Office are contained on the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) website (external link).
The AIE Regulations provide that a fee of 150 euro must be charged for an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information. However, provision is also made for a reduced appeal fee of 50 euro for medical card holders and their dependents and also for people, not party to the original request for access to information, who are appealing a decision to release information which they believe will affect them.
AIE Regulations 2007 Guidance Notes
Further information on the AIE Regulations, including more detailed information on the above Frequently Asked Questions. is set out in the Official Guidelines which accompany the AIE Regulations. These Guidelines are intended to assist and offer guidance to public authorities on the implementation of the AIE Regulations and to applicants who wish to access environmental information.
Assistance in Making Requests
Guide to the Functions of and Records held by the Department are available in Section 15 (FOI) Reference Book (doc 1033kb)