Ensuring Access to Environmental Information

The role of the Commissioner for Environmental Information is to decide on appeals by members of the public who are not satisfied with the outcome of their requests to public authorities for environmental information.

Everyone has the right to request certain environmental information from public authorities under the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2014 (the AIE Regulations). These Regulations give effect in Ireland to Directive 2003/4/EC, which was adopted to give effect to the Access to Information pillar of the Aarhus Convention.

The Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information (OCEI) was established by the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007. The role of the Commissioner is to decide on appeals by members of the public who are not satisfied with the outcome of their requests to public authorities for environmental information.

Specifically, the Regulations provide that the Commissioner can review decisions of public authorities, and in accordance with law, the Commissioner can make binding decisions on access to environmental information.

The Regulations provide for a fee of €50 (reduced to €15 for medical card holders) to be paid by those wishing to appeal. Before the OCEI can accept an appeal, the appellant must show that he or she has availed of the right to internal review of the public authority's decision.
A consolidated version of the AIE Regulations and Directive 2003/4/EC, along with a guidance note on the Access to Information on the Environment system, are available on the website of the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government.

Recent Decisions


Under article 12(5) of the AIE Regulations, the Commissioner for Environmental Information reviewed the Council's decision. He found that the Council was justified in refusing to provide information on prior written notifications of waste shipments, as well as documents supporting such notifications and an internal database of notifications, on the basis that the exception under article 9(1)(c) applied to this information. He found that the Council was justified in refusing to provide information supporting the application process in connection with the register of brokers and dealers, on the basis that the exception under article 9(1)(c) applied to this information. He found that the Council was not justified in refusing to provide access to an inspection file on the basis of article 8(a)(iv). He found that the Council was justified in part in refusing access to some of the information contained in the Council’s inspections file, as the exception under article 9(1)(c) applied. The Commissioner varied the decision of the Council, and required the Council to make available to the appellant environmental information set out in Schedule 1 to his decision. He also required the Council to make available to the appellant environmental information set out in Schedule 3, subject to the separation of information to which article 9(1)(c) applies. He required the Council to make available to the appellant such parts of the three public registers it maintains as are relevant to the appellant's request, together with copies of any certificates of registration of brokers and dealers relevant to the request.
01 Nov 2016

In accordance with article 12(5) of the AIE Regulations, the Commissioner reviewed the internal review decision of the Department. He found that the Department was justified in refusing access to the information sought in the first part of the request on the ground that it did not fall within the definition of environmental information set out in article 3(1) of the AIE Regulations. He found that the Department was justified in refusing the second part of the appellant's request on the ground that the exception under article 9(2)(b) applied, i.e. this part of the request remained formulated in too general a manner, notwithstanding the Department's invitation to the appellant to make a more specific request, as provided for under article 7(8). Accordingly, the Commissioner affirmed the Department's internal review decision in full.
10 Nov 2016

The Commissioner found that the Council was justified in refusing to provide access to most of the requested information for the reasons given. He found that refusal to provide access to one letter was not justified. Accordingly, the Commissioner varied the Council’s decision and required it to provide access to that letter.
04 Nov 2016

The Commissioner found that: · The Department’s refusal to provide access to information on the third part of the request was justified because such information was not held by or for the Department · The Department’s refusal to provide access to the withheld information was not justified The Commissioner varied the Department’s decision to reflect these findings. In addition, he required the Department to provide the appellant with access to the withheld information
27 Oct 2016