What does this mean?
The Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) Regulations give you the right to access Environmental Information held by, or for, Public Authorities.
See European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2011 (S.I No. 133 of 2007, S.I. No. 662 of 2011 & S.I. No. 615 of 2014).
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 provide a definition of environmental information; outlines 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.
What can I ask for?
You can ask for Environmental Information held by, or for, the Charities Regulator. Environmental Information is defined in the AIE Regulations (see below for the list) and determines what is available.
The Environmental Information you require may already be available on the Charities Regulator’s website. A decision on your request would normally be made as soon as possible but at the latest must be made one month from the date of receipt of the request. Where, due to the complexity or volume of information required, the Charities Regulator is unable to respond within the one month time frame, we will write to the applicant 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.
What is the definition of Environmental Information?
Environmental Information can be held in any material form (including written, visual, aural or electronic) and is defined as follows:
- The state of the elements of the environment, such as air and atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape and natural sites including wetlands, coastal and marine areas, biological diversity and its components, including genetically modified organisms and the interaction among these elements;
- Factors, such as substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste, including radioactive waste, emissions, discharges and other releases into the environment, affecting or likely to affect the elements of the environment;
- Measures (including administrative measures), such as policies, legislation, plans, programmes, environmental agreements, and activities affecting or likely to affect the elements and factors referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) as well as measures or activities designed to protect those elements;
- Reports on the implementation of environmental legislation;
- Cost-benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions used within the framework of the measures and activities referred to in paragraph (c), and;
- The state of human health and safety, including the contamination of the food chain, where relevant, conditions of human life, cultural sites and built structures inasmuch as they are, or may be, affected by the state of the elements of the environment referred to in paragraph (a) or, through those elements, by any of the matters referred to in paragraphs (b) and (c);
What information is not available under the AIE Regulations?
The AIE Regulations do not apply to Environmental Information that is required to be made available under any other statutory provision.
Information that does not come within the scope of the definition of Environmental Information (as outlined above) and which is not already publicly available, may be requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2014.
How do I make an AIE Request?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org, state that your request is being made under the AIE Regulations and:
- Provide your name, address and any other relevant contact details;
- State, in terms that are as specific as possible, the environmental information you request, and;
- Specify the format you prefer to receive the information.
There is no initial fee for making an application under the AIE Regulations. However, the Charities Regulator may charge a reasonable fee for supplying the information requested. This may include the costs of compiling, copying, printing or posting of information. There is no charge for applying for an internal review.
An appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information is €50 or €15 if the applicant is the holder or dependent of a holder of a medical card, or a third party appealing the decision to release certain information.
Decision on a Request
- A decision on your request may be to grant, part grant or refuse the information requested and must normally be made within one month.
- The Regulations set out mandatory and discretionary grounds for refusal of information. In either case the Charities Regulator must specify in writing the reasons for refusal.
- Where the information is held by a public authority other than the Charities Regulator we will either refer your request directly to the appropriate organisation, or advise you who the appropriate organisation is.
If I’m denied access to information, can I appeal against the decision?
Yes. Under Article 11 of the AIE Regulations you have a right to seek an internal review of the initial decision. You may also request an internal review if you have not received a response within the appropriate timeframe. An internal review must be requested within one month of receipt of the original decision (the public authority may extend this timeframe but is not required to do so). There is no charge for requesting an internal review.
An internal review involves a complete reconsideration of the matter by a member of the staff of the public authority, who may affirm, vary or annul the original decision made.
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 for the review.
Commissioner for Environmental Information
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review, you can appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information. You must appeal within one month of receiving the decision on the internal review from the public authority. However, the Commissioner may extend this time limit in individual cases.
Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information, 18 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2, D02 HE97.
You can contact the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information by email (email@example.com) or by phone at 1890-253238.