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Access to Information on the Environment (AIE)

 

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) (hereafter referred to as the AIE Regulations), gives legal rights to those seeking access to 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. 

 

The AIE Regulations provide a definition of environmental information; outline 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 e.g. timeframes for response.  The regulations also provides for a formal appeals procedure in the event that a person is unhappy with a decision on their request. 

 

How to make an application for information under AIE Regulations?

 

When making a request for information under the AIE Regulations, you are required to state that the application is being made under the AIE Regulations and submit it in writing to:

 

Ms. Frances Friel,

Access to Information on the Environment Officer, 

Donegal County Council,

County House,

Lifford

Co Donegal

 

or by electronic form by emailing info@donegalcoco.ie

 

 

Please ensure to:  

  • provide your contact details;
  • state, in terms that are as specific as possible, the environmental information required, and
  • if you require the information in a specific format or manner of access, you should specify this in your request.  

 

It is not necessary to state an interest in the request. 

 

 Fees

 

There is no initial fee for making an application under the AIE Regulations.  However, a public authority may charge a reasonable fee for supplying the information requested.   This may include the costs of compiling, copying, printing or posting of information, and are as follows:  

 

  • if an applicant requires hard copies, there may be a fee of €0.04 per sheet depending on the volume of information contained in the request.
  • a charge of 10.16 euro applies to the provision of information on CD-ROM

 

Details of charges, if any, will be advised in the final decision letter.

 

Where requesters are in a position to view the required documents on site at the offices of Donegal County Council, there will be no charge for accessing these records, however this is separate to the charges noted above.

 

Applying for a Review 

 

There is no charge for applying for an internal review. 

 

It costs €150 to take an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information, or €50 if you are the holder, or dependent of a holder of a medical card, or a third party appealing the decision to release certain information. 

 

Requirements for dealing with requests

 

In general, Donegal County Council is required to respond to an AIE request within one month of receipt of the request.  Where, due to the complexity or volume of information required, Donegal County Council is unable to respond within the one month timeframe, they are required to 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. 

 

If Donegal County Council does not have the information requested; it can either transfer the request to another public authority or advise the applicant of where it believes the request should be directed.  In either case, it is required to notify the applicant. 

 

Grounds for refusing information

 

There are a number of grounds on which a public authority can refuse information; these include when a body is acting in a legislative or judicial capacity (Article 3(2)) and both mandatory (Article 8) and discretionary (Article 9) grounds for refusing information.   When making a decision on whether to release information, a public body is required to consider the provisions in Article 10. 

 

Appealing a decision

 

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. 

 

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review, you can appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information (CEI).  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. 

 

A written appeal should be submitted to the Appeals Officer at the following address

Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Dublin 2.
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 (external link).

 

Routinely Available Information

 

Donegal 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.

 

The AIE Regulations allow people access to environmental information held by or for public authorities which is not routinely available through other means.  If you require further environmental information than that which is not routinely available, you may submit an AIE request or contact the AIE officer, as outlined above. 

 

Further Information

 

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

 

Statistics

 

Donegal County Council received a total of fifteen AIE requests in 2016, 12 of which were granted and one part-granted.  One request was transferred and one request was refused. No  Internal Reviews were received and one appeal was made to the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information.

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