Access to Information on the Environment
Access to Information on the Environment
The European Communities Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007-2018 gives you legal rights to seek access to information on the environment from Longford County Council. 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. These regulations also oblige public authorities to be proactive in disseminating environmental information to the public.
The regulations cover information in written, visual, oral, electronic or any other material form. There are six categories of information available as follows:
- The state of the elements of the environment. For example, air, water, soil, land, landscape, biological diversity.
- Factors affecting, or likely to affect, the elements of the environment. For example, energy, noise, radiation, waste and 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 elements of the environment.
- The state of human health and safety, the food chain, cultural sites and built structures in as much as they are or may be affected by the elements of the environment.
Every request for information on the environment needs to fall under one or more of these categories.
How to make a request under Access to Information on the Environment
Access to Information on the Environment requests must be submitted in writing by post (to Access to Information on the Environment, Longford County Council, Great Water Street, Longford N39 NH56) or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your request must clearly state that the records are being requested are under the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007-2018. Please make sure to be as specific as possible about what information you are requesting and which of the six categories above it relates to. You must also provide your name and contact details. Please also state how you would like to access the records sought, for example, electronic copy via email, photocopy, or to attend the offices to view a file.
While an Access to Information on the Environment request is free of charge, fees may apply if the costs involved to Longford County Council are significant. Longford County Council has set the following charges:
- Where costs to Longford County Council are deemed to be significant a charge of €20.95 per hour will apply for the supply of documents.
- However, where the records concerned contain only personal information relating to the requester then this fee shall be disregarded, unless the grant concerned relates to a significant number of records.
- Photocopy per sheet: €0.04
- Floppy Disc: €0.50
- CD Rom: €10.00
- Photocopy, floppy disc or CD rom charges will be 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.
- No fee may be charged for the internal review process.
- Appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information at €150 (or €50 for medical card holders and their dependents, as well as for people not part of the original request but who are appealing a decision to release information which they believe will affect them).
- Nothing in this fee schedule precludes Longford County Council from making available general information to the public on a voluntary basis outside the formal provisions of the AIE regulations.
- This fee schedule is subject to review by Longford County Council when and if deemed appropriate by the local authority.
How will my request be handled?
Longford County Council has a duty to reply to you within one month of receiving your application.
We will advise you of the decision and provide the requested information if your request has been approved. If the request is for a large amount of information or is very complex, this response will advise you of the date that you can expect the information; which will not be more than two months from your original request.
Can my request be refused?
Yes, there are a number or reasons why Longford County Council might refuse your request. If your request is too broad, we will help you to reword your request in more specific terms, under the correct category. We may also refuse the request if it is:
- Manifestly unreasonable, having regard to the volume or range of information sought,
- Contains material that has not yet been completed, or unfinished documents or data, or
- Concerns internal communications of public authorities, taking into consideration the public interest served by the disclosure.
The Regulations also set out a number of mandatory grounds for refusal that Longford County Council must follow. This includes when releasing the information would negatively affect:
- The confidentiality of personal information relating to a person who has not consented to the disclosure of the information,
- The interests of any person who voluntarily supplied the information requested unless that person has consented to the release of that information,
- The protection of the environment to which that information relates, or
- The confidentiality of the proceedings of public authorities.
The council also has the option to refuse if disclosure of information would negatively affect:
- International relations, national defence, or public security,
- The course of justice,
- Commercial or industrial confidentiality, or
- Intellectual property rights.
Right to Appeal
If you are dissatisfied with a decision on your request, you may appeal the decision internally. You have one month from receiving the decision, to request an internal review. An application to review a decision should be addressed to the stated senior employee, as outlined in the acknowledgement letter you will receive. You will receive a reply with the details of their decision within one month of your request for a review. There is no charge for this internal review process.
If you are unhappy with the decision of the internal appeals officer, you may then appeal to the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information. These appeals should be addressed directly to:
Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information
6 Earlsfort Terrace,
Dublin 2, D02 W773
Phone: 01 639 5689
Volume of Requests
National AIE Statistics are also available.
Where can I find more information?
If you want more information about Access to Information on the Environment or help with submitting a request, you can contact our Access to Information on the Environment Officer by calling 043 334 3477 or by email to email@example.com.
You will also find more information about the regulations and guidelines on the following websites:
Access to Information on the Environment webpage on gov.ie
The Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information at ocei.ie
The Environmental Protection Agency's website at epa.ie