Ireland ratified the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, commonly referred to as the Aarhus Convention, on 20th June 2012. It lays down a set of basic rules to promote the involvement of citizens in environmental matters and improve enforcement of environmental law.
Access to Information on the Environment (AIE)
You are entitled to request access to information on the environment that is held by Kilkenny County Council. This right comes from Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament, the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2014 (hereafter referred to as the AIE Regulations).
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 provide for a formal appeals procedure in the event that a person is unhappy with a decision on their request
What is Environmental information?
The AIE Regulations define environmental information as:
"any information in written, visual, aural, electronic or any other material form on
- 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,
- 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,
- 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 (1) and (2) as well as measures or activities designed to protect those elements,
- reports on the implementation of environmental legislation,
- cost-benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions used within the framework of the measures and activities referred to in paragraph (3), and
- 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 in as much as they are, or may be, affected by the state of the elements of the environment referred to in paragraph (1) or, through those elements, by any of the matters referred to in paragraphs (2) and (3);"
The AIE Regulations provide for access to both environmental information held by or for a public authority.