What rights do I have in relation to accessing information on the Environment?
You have the right to obtain certain environmental information from a public authority, such as a local authority.
This right to access Environmental information comes from Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament, and the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007 - 2011
How do I request information on the Environment, held by Galway City Council?
To make a request for information under the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations please do so as follows:
- Please submit your request in writing by email or by post
- email: email@example.com with AIE Request in the subject title
- post: AIE Officer, Corporate Services Department, Galway City Council, City Hall, College Road, Galway
- State in your communication that your application for information is being made under the 'Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007-2011'
- State, as accurately as possible, the nature of the environmental information you wish to request
- Provide your contact details
The AIE Officer will acknowledge receipt of your request and endeavour to respond to you no later than one month from the date of receiving your application.
If your request for information is complex or a large volume of information is required, we will write to you within one month and inform you of the difficulties processing your request. We will provide you with a new date by which we will respond. This date will be no more than 2 months after we received your original request.
- Please submit your request in writing by email or by post
What categories of Environmental Information can I access under the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007?
The Regulations/Directive covers information held in written, visual, aural, electronic or any other material form. There are 6 categories of information within this Directive:
- 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, other releases into the environment.
- Measures designed to protect the elements of the environment, e.g. policies, legislation, plans, programmes, 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 sites and built structures in as much as they may be affected by the elements of the environment.
Is there a Fee for Requesting Information on the Environment?
As provided for in the AIE Regulations, there is no initial fee required when lodging a request for information under AIE to this Department. A public authority may however, charge a reasonable fee for supplying environmental information in accordance with the Regulations. This fee has been set as €20.00 per hour*
- Photocopy per page: €0.04
- CD Rom: €10.00
- Radiograph: €6.00
*Disregarded if only personal information is contained in the record, except where the grant of the request relates to a significant amount of records.
Copying charges : Disregarded if only personal information is contained in the record and it would not be reasonable, having regard to the means of the requester, to apply a charge.
Details of charges, if any, will be advised in the initial stages of processing the request.
It should be noted that fees in respect of supplying information, may be waived where the cost is estimated at less than €10.00.
European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2014
Regulation 15 of the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2014 deals with fees associated with AIE requests. Both 15 (1) and 15 (2) of the regulations outline the charges that can be applied to an applicant on receipt of an AIE request.
15 (1) (a) A public authority may charge a fee when it makes available environmental information in accordance with these Regulations (including when it makes such information available following an appeal to the Commissioner under article 12), provided that such fee shall be reasonable having regard to the Directive.
b) Notwithstanding sub-article (a), a public authority shall not charge a fee for access to any public registers or lists of environmental information pursuant to Article 5(1)(d).
c) Notwithstanding sub-article (a), a public authority shall not charge a fee for the examination in situ of information requested.
d) Where an applicant examines information in situ and wishes to obtain copies of that information, a public authority may charge a fee, consistent with the list of fees specified under article 15(2), for the provision of such copies.
(2) Where a public authority charges a fee pursuant to sub-article (1), it shall make available to the public a list of fees charged, information on how they are calculated and the circumstances under which they may be waived.
AIE Guidelines (May 2013)
The Guidance for Public Authorities and others on implementation of the Regulations which was published in May 2013 states under 16.4:
A "reasonable" charge may vary depending on the volume of information to be released but could, for example, include costs connected with compiling, copying, printing and posting of the information. The charge may only relate to the supply of information, and charges should not be made for:
- provision of general advice on the information that is available,
- time expended on discussing a request,
- determination of what information is discoverable or
- search and retrieval costs for the information requested.
In light of the CJEU ruling point 4 "search and retrieval costs for the information requested" will be discounted and replaced by the instruction of this circular AIE/2/2017.
This charge may include not only postal and photocopying costs, but also to costs attributable to the time spent by staff on answering an individual request for information, which includes the time spent on searching for the information and putting it in the form required.
Have I a right to appeal should my request for information on the Environment, held by Galway City Council, be refused?
Right to Appeal
There are reasons when you can be legally refused access to environmental information. However, if a public authority refuses your request for information or if you feel that your request has not been handled appropriately, you can seek an internal review by the public authority.
If you require an internal review, you must request it within 1 month of receiving the decision by putting your appeal in writing to The Senior Executive Officer, Corporate Services Department, Galway City Council, City Hall, College Road, Galway.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review you can appeal the decision to
- The Commissioner for Environmental Information (CEI)
- 18 Lower Lesson St.
- Dublin 2
You must appeal within 1 month of receiving the reviewed decision from the public authority. The CEI may extend the time limit if he/she believes it is reasonable to do so.
It costs €50 to take an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information, or €15 if you have a medical card.
How do I contact the AIE Officer for Galway City Council?
AIE Officer, Corporate Services Department, Galway City Council, City Hall, College Road, Galway
Phone: +353 91 536400