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 repeal the previous legislative instrument, the European Communities (AIE) Regulations 1998. The Regulations were amended by the European Communities (AIE) Regulations 2011, (S.I. 662 of 2011). Both 2007 and 2011 Regulations are to be read together and to be construed as one. They can be referred to as the European Communities (AIE) 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.
Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC
Information relating to the environment held by, or for, a public authority must be made available on request to any person. Certain exceptions may apply.
The Regulations provide a definition of environmental information and outline how 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 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 Act differ in some ways. A wider range of public authorities are covered by the AIE Regulations than by the FOI Act. There are also differences in the grounds under which access to information can be refused.
What public authorities are subject to AIE?
In line with the 2011 Regulations, the Minister must 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 the supply of information under the AIE regulations?
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 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, 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 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?
Fees in respect of supplying information may be waived where the cost is estimated at less than €10.00.
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?
AIE requests can be submitted to:
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport,
Leeson Lane, Dublin 2, D02TR60
When making a request for information under the AIE Regulations you must:
- 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
- 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 are unhappy with the decision on your request, or feel your request was otherwise not properly dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the AIE Regulations, you may request an internal review. You must request this within one month of receipt of the decision.
No fee will be charged for the internal review process.
You will recieve 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. The time limits and fees associated with such an appeal will also be outlined. The outcome of the reiview 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 can be submitted to the Commissioner for Environmental Information:
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 provide that a fee of 150 euro will 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. A reduced appeal fee will also apply for people, not party to the original request for access to information, to appeal a decision to release information which they believe will affect them.
AIE Regulations 2007 Guidance Notes
Further information on the AIE Regulations is set out in the Official Guidelines which accompany the AIE Regulations. These Guidelines assist public authorities on the implementation of the AIE Regulations and applicants who wish to access environmental information.
- Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007 - 2011 Guidelines (2012)
- 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)