Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC.
The European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2011 give legal rights to those seeking access to environmental information from public authorities.
The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has prepared guidance for public authorities and others in relation to the implementation of the Regulations.
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 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 calculated according to the volume of work involved in compiling information where it has not been previously available in an accessible format. This fee is €20 per hour.
If requesters require hard copies, a fee of 4c per sheet will apply. If requesters require CDs, a fee of €10 per CD will apply.
Requesters will be informed in writing of the fees involved, on receipt of their request, and a 20% deposit will be required to be paid to the National Transport Authority (NTA) before commencement of the work involved. The requester has an opportunity to review or amend his/her request at this stage. The process will not commence until the deposit has been received by the NTA. It should also be noted that the date for the final decision on the AIE request (which is normally within one month of the NTA receiving the request) will be determined by reference to the date the deposit payment has been received.
The balance of the fee will fall due when the information requested has been compiled and copied, and before it is released to the requestor.
The NTA 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.
How will the National Transport Authority 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.
Where requesters are in a position to view the required documents on site at the NTA 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 via email; however, this is separate to the charges noted above.
How do I make an AIE request?
Applications under the Regulations for environmental information should be made in writing to:
Or by email to AEI@nationaltransport.ie
The request should:
- State that the application is being made under the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007;
- Provide daytime contact details, and
- Clearly indicate the specific environmental information required, and the preferred form and manner of access desired.
Normally, decisions on requests made under the Regulations are notified within one month of their receipt by the NTA.
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, no later than one month after receiving the decision, request the NTA 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 receiving 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:
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.
The AIE Regulations require a fee of €150 for an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information. However, provision is also made for a reduced appeal fee of €50 for medical card holders, their dependents and also for people, not party to the original request for access to information, that are appealing a decision to release information which they believe will affect them.
AIE Regulations 2007 to 2011 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.
- Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007 – 2011 Guidelines (2012)(pdf, 135kb)
- SI 662 of 2011 – Access to Information on the Environment (Amendment) Regulations (pdf, 122kb)
- SI 133 of 2007 – Access to Information on the Environment Regulations (pdf, 153kb)
Assistance in Making Requests
The National Transport Authority’s guide to its functions, records, rules and practices will assist in the preparation of requests for environmental information.
If you have any queries the AIE Unit can be contacted at AEI@nationaltransport.ie