Access to Information on the Environment (AIE)

Access to Information on the Environment (AIE)

Introduction

 

Introduction

The European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2011 (S.I. No. 133 of 2007 and S.I. No. 662 of 2011) (AIE Regulations) gives 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.

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What categories of information does AIE cover?

There are six categories of information available as follows:

  • the state of the elements of the environment e.g. air, water, soil, land, landscape, biological diversity
  • factors affecting, or likely to affect, the elements of the environment, e.g. energy, noise, radiation, waste and other releases into the environment
  • measures designed to protect the elements of the environment e.g. policies, legislation, plans, programs, environmental agreements
  • reports on the implementation of environmental legislation
  • analyses and assumptions used within the framework of measures designed to protect the environment
  • the state of human health and safety, the food chain, cultural sights and built structures in as much as they may be affected by the elements of the environment.

A public authority shall not make available environmental information where disclosure of the information

(a) would adversely affect

  1. the confidentiality of personal information relating to a natural person who has not consented to the disclosure of the information, and where that confidentiality is otherwise protected by law,
  2. the interests of any person who, voluntarily and without being under, or capable of being put under, a legal obligation to do so, supplied the information requested, unless that person has consented to the release of that information,
  3. the protection of the environment to which that information relates, or
  4. without prejudice to paragraph (b), the confidentiality of the proceedings of public authorities, where such confidentiality is otherwise protected by law (including the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003 with respect to exempt records within the meaning of those Acts);

Or

(b) to the extent that it would involve the disclosure of discussions at one or more meetings of the Government, is prohibited by Article 28 of the Constitution.

Under the AIE Regulations we may refuse to give you access to information on certain grounds:

  • international relations, national defence or public security
  • the course of justice
  • commercial or industrial confidentiality
  • intellectual property rights
  • material in the course of completion
  • internal communications with public authorities
  • the request is considered to be unreasonable due to the volume or range of information sought or the request is too general.

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How do I request information under the AIE Regulations?

When making a request for information under the AIE Regulations, you must:

  • submit your request in writing or electronic form and state that it is being made under the AIE Regulations
  • provide your contact details
  • state as clearly as possible the environmental information required
  • if you require the information in a specific format or manner of access, you should specify this in your request.

We are obliged to reply within one month of receipt of your application.

Please submit your application to:

Freedom of Information Officer
Corporate Services
Monaghan County Council
The Glen
Monaghan

Telephone: (047) 30538

Email: foi@monaghancoco.ie

The AIE Regulations allow people access to environmental information held by or for public authorities which is not routinely available through other means.

The Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003 operate in parallel with the AIE Regulations. This means that people can gain access to environmental information under the FOI Acts and the AIE Regulations

If you wish to access personal information held by the Council under the Data Protection legislation, please see the Data Protection Section.

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The Right of Appeal

If you are not satisfied with the response to your request or if the Council fail to respond within the assigned timeframe, you can request an internal review of the matter. That review will be undertaken by an officer of the Council who was unconnected to the original decision. You must make your appeal within one month of receiving the original decision letter and the Council must respond to your appeal within one month of receipt of same.

Please submit your appeal to:

Freedom of Information Officer
Corporate Services
Monaghan County Council
The Glen
Monaghan

Telephone: (047) 30538

Email: foi@monaghancoco.ie

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Appealing to The Commissioner for Environmental Information

Following the completion of the internal review, you may seek an independent review of the decision from the Commissioner for Environmental Information. Appeals to the Commissioner must be made within one month of the internal review decision. You may also appeal to the Commissioner if the Council does not reply to your request for an internal review of the original decision within one month.

Appeals must be made in writing to the Commissioner for Environmental Information at the following address:

Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2

Tel: 01 6395689

Email: info@ocei.ie

Further contact details and information on the Commissioner’s Office can be found on www.ocei.ie.

Third parties affected by the decision of the Council may also appeal to the Commissioner against the Council’s decision.

You must include the appropriate fee for your appeal (see below).

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Fees

There is no initial fee required when lodging a request for information under AIE. In line with the regulations, however, a public authority may charge a reasonable fee for supplying environmental information.

This fee will be calculated upon receipt of a request and is dependent 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 €20.00 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.
Public Authorities may not charge for access to registers or lists of environmental information or for the examination of such information in situ.

The Council 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, 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 the request. The process will not commence until payment of deposit has been received by the Council. 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 Council of the request) will be determined by reference to the date of receipt of the deposit payment.

Fees in respect of supplying information may be waived where the cost is estimated at less than €10.00.

Electronic access can be provided to requesters free of charge or by CD-ROM (€10) containing copy documents again depending on volume.
AIE Regulations do provide that a fee of €50 must be charged for an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information. Provision is made for a reduced appeal fee of €15 for medical card holders and their dependents and also for people who are not party to the original request but who are appealing the decision to release information as they believe it affects them.
The Commissioner for Environmental Information may waive the €50 appeal fee in cases where the public authority has not responded to the request for environmental information within the specified time period.

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AIE Statistics for Monaghan County Council 

AIE Statistics

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Further Information

For further information on Access to Information on the Environment, please see www.environ.ie/en

and for further information on the Commissioner’s Office, please see www.ocei.gov.ie.

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Routinely Available Information

Monaghan County Council makes a wide range of information about its activities and services available to the public. Any member of the public can obtain such information without having to make a formal request using the AIE Regulations or any other piece of legislation.

Data Protection

Access to Information on the Environment