The Access to Information on the Environment Regulations (AIE) gives everyone the right to request environmental information that is held by a public body. The Regulations arise from an EU Directive and have been in force in Ireland for several years. Their aim is to open up the work of public bodies where it impacts on the environment.
The Aarhus Convention established three main principal rights for the public – to receive environmental information, to participate in environmental decision making and access to justice. The aim is that allowing people access to more information would assist them when taking part in decision making processes where the environment would be impacted by the outcome.
What is Environmental Information
The definition of ‘environmental information as’ in the regulations is deliberately broad. It is 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);
Although the definition is deliberately broad, European and Irish courts as well as the Irish Commissioner for Environmental Information have ruled that a record must have more than a minimal connection with the environment to be released under AIE.
Making a request
You can make a request for environmental records held by RTE by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by post at
Access to Information on the Environment Office,
Administration Building, RTE, Donnybrook, Dublin 4
You must state that your request is being made under the Access to Information on the Environment regulations. There is no fee to make a request although some charges may arise during its processing, €20 per hour for search, retrieval and copying; 4 cents per page of photocopying and €10 for CD. You will be advised in advance if your request will incur any charges.
You can expect an answer to your request within one month.
If you are dissatisfied with our reply or if you do not hear back from us within one month you make seek an internal review which is free of charge. This can be done via email or via post to the addresses outlined above. You have one month from receipt of our reply to you in which to make this appeal.
If you remain dissatisfied after the internal review you can seek the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information to review the case. You should request an appeal from the OCEI within one month of receipt of our internal review. There is a fee of €50 (or €15 for medical card holders) for making such an appeal.
The following websites provide more information about AIE which might be of use.