Access to Information on the Environment (AIE)
Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament provides that, 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, without that person having to state an interest.
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. They were amended by the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2011, (S.I. 662 of 2011).
Both pieces of legislation are to be read together and to be construed as one and can be referred to as the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2011.
Interpretation of the Regulations
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.
In these Regulations “Directive” means Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003.
“environmental information” means any information in written, visual, aural, electronic or any other material form on –
(a) 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,
(b) 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,
(c) 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,
(d) reports on the implementation of environmental legislation,
(e) cost-benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions used within the framework of the measures and activities referred to in paragraph (c), and
(f) 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);
“environmental information held by a public authority” means environmental information in the possession of a public authority that has been produced or received by that authority;
“environmental information held for a public authority” means environmental information that is physically held by a natural or legal person on behalf of that authority.
How do I make a request for Environmental Information?
A request for environmental information shall
(a) be made in writing or electronic form,
(b) state that the request is made under these Regulations
(c) state the name, address and any other relevant contact details of the applicant
(d) state, in terms that are as specific as possible, the environmental information that is the subject of the request, and
(e) if the applicant desires access to environmental information in a particular form or manner, specific the form or manner of access desired.
An applicant shall not be required to state his or her interest in making the request. There is no initial fee required when lodging a request for information under AIE
A request to the Marine Institute for Environmental Information should be made in writing or electronic form to:
email: foi [at] marine [dot] ie
The Marine Institute is obliged to acknowledge the request within two weeks, and generally make a decision on the request within four weeks, or eight weeks in certain cases. If the Institute does not respond within four weeks the decision is deemed to have been refused and the requester can proceed to the review stage.
Assistance in Making Requests
A guide to the functions of, and records held by, the Marine Institute are available in the Freedom of Information Publication Scheme
If you have any queries the AIE Officer may be contacted by telephone at +353-91-387200 or emailed at foi [at] marine [dot] ie
What if I am not satisfied with the decision on my Environmental Information request?
You may seek an ‘internal review’ of the decision from the Marine Institute who shall designate a person unconnected with the original decision whose rank is the same as, or higher than, that of the original decision-maker to review the decision. Applications for review of a decision on a request must be made within four weeks, and should be addressed to:
email: foi [at] marine [dot] ie
No fee will be charged for the internal review process. The review must be completed by the Institute within one month. If the requester is still unhappy with the decision, he or she has the right of appeal the decision to the Commissioner for Environmental Information. The holder of the office of Commissioner for Environment Information shall be the person who, for the time being, holds the office of Information Commissioner under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003.
Office of the Information Commissioner,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Phone: (01) 6395689
Is there a charge for getting Environmental Information under the AIE Regulations?
There is no initial fee required when lodging a request for information under AIE. However, in line with the Regulations, the Marine Institute may charge a fee when it makes available environmental information in accordance with these Regulations, provided that such fee shall be reasonable having regard to the Directive. The Marine Institute shall not charge a fee for access to any public registers or lists of environmental information pursuant to Article 5(1)(d). The Marine Institute shall not charge a fee for the examination in situ of information requested. Where the Marine Institute charges a fee, it shall make available a list of fees charged, information on how they are calculated and the circumstances under which they may be waived. No fee will be charged for the internal review process.
A fee of €150 shall be charged for making an appeal to the Commissioner. In respect of an appeal by
(a) A holder of a medical card
(b) A dependant of a holder of a medical card, or
(c) A person referred to in article 12(3)(b),
the fee charged shall be €50.