The European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2014 (S.I. No. 133 of 2007, S.I. No. 662 of 2011, S.I. 615 of 2014 and S.I. 309 of 2018) (hereafter referred to as the AIE Regulations), give legal rights to those seeking to access information on the environment from public authorities.
These Regulations came into effect on 1 May 2007, repealing the previous legislation, the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 1998. S.I. 662 of 2011, S.I. 615 of 2014 and S.I. 309 of 2018 revised these regulations further.
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 and the manner in which public authorities are required to deal with requests e.g. timeframes for response. The regulations also provide for a formal appeals procedure in the event that a person is unhappy with a decision on their request.
The amalgamation of these four pieces of legislation should be read together as one, and may be referred to as the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2018.
An unofficial consolidation of the Regulations is available here
Guidelines issued by Department of Environment , Climate and Communications
Difference between Access to Information on the Environment request and a Freedom of Information request
The Access to Information on the Environment Regulations operate in parallel with the Freedom of Information Act 2014. 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.
Charges for getting information under the Access to Information on the Environment regulations
There is no fee to make a request under AIE Regulations. However, the regulations do allow a public authority to charge a reasonable fee for the cost of supplying the environmental information.
The Department has set the following charges:
Search, retrieval and copying of records: €20.00 per hour
Photocopy: €0.04 per sheet
CD Rom: €10.00
Details of any charges that apply will be advised in the final decision letter.
We may disregard charges if the record contains only personal information.
How do I make a request for Access to information on the Environment
Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) Request Form
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
Submit it in writing by post, email or fax
Provide your contact details
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. Where, due to the complexity or volume of information required, we are unable to respond within the one month timeframe, we are required to write to you 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.
Department of Agriculture, Food & The Marine - Processing of AIE requests
The points below outline overall process and steps in processing AIE requests to and by the Department, with a view to providing an efficient way for correspondents to relay AIE requests to the Department and for the Department to process such requests.
1. The request is received from individual by the Freedom of Information Unit in DAFM
2. An acknowledgement is issued to the individual indicating a Decision Maker (DM) within the relevant division.
3. Further contact between the individual raising the request and the DM, subsequent to DM confirmation being received by the individual, will not take place, unless the DM requires further clarification of the request.
4. Response issues from DM.
5. Individual raising the request retains the opportunity to request a review of the response.
6. If review is sought, that request is acknowledged, and a reviewer is selected and notified by the Freedom of Information Unit, analogous to point 2.
7. Additional contact between the individual and the reviewer, after their confirmation of receipt of review request, will not take place, analogous to point 3 above.
9. Due to the volume of requests being processed, repeated contact or engagement, outside the advised process, by any individual raising a request cannot be responded to.
DAFM welcome the process above being followed. Where in circumstances non-adherence to points 3 and 7 above in particular occur it may be viewed as unreasonable conduct and unreasonable persistence in line with DAFM Unreasonable Behaviour Policy which can be viewed here
What can I do if I am unhappy with a decision on my request
If you believe that your request for environmental information was refused (fully or in part) or was not properly handled in line with AIE Regulations, you may request that our Department carry out an internal review of the decision in part or in whole. You must request this review within one month of receiving a decision. The review will be carried out by a more senior member of staff.
No fee will be charged for the internal review process.
Within one month of receiving your review request, we will write to you to inform you of the decision and the reason for the decision. We will also advise you of your right of appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information.
How can 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,
6 Earlsfort Terrace,
Telephone: 01- 6395689
Further contact details and information on the Commissioner’s Office are contained on the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information (OCEI) website
The AIE Regulations provide that a fee of €50 must be charged for an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information. However, provision is also made for a reduced appeal fee of €15 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.
Further information in relation to this regulation can be found on the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications website
Any personal data provided to the Department’s FOI Unit for the purpose of processing your AIE request will be held safely and securely by the FOI Unit. When the business need to retain this information has expired it will be examined with a view to destroying the personal data as soon as possible, and in line with Department policy. Further information on Data Protection can be found on our website here
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