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 Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government.

Recent Decisions


The Commissioner found that the Council was not justified in deciding that it held no further information within the scope of the AIE request. He expressed his expectation that the Council will undertake a fully adequate search for relevant information and make a fresh decision on the request.
12 Oct 2017

In accordance with article 12(5) of the Regulations, the Commissioner reviewed daa's internal review decision. He found that daa is a public authority subject to the AIE Regulations, notwithstanding the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2014. He found that daa was not justified in its decision that the agreement does not fall within the definition of "environmental information", as daa had incorrectly applied the provisions of article 3(1) of the AIE Regulations. The Commissioner annulled daa's decision in full and expressed his expectation that daa would make a new decision on the request, in accordance with the AIE Regulations.
27 Sep 2017

The Commissioner found that the AIE request was valid and ought to have been accepted when it was received. He found that there had been a deemed refusal of the request and that the appellant’s subsequent appeal was valid. Accordingly, he was satisfied that he had jurisdiction to conduct a review. The Commissioner found that refusal of the request was not justified and he annulled that decision. However, he went on to find that the request was manifestly unreasonable having regard to the volume and range of information sought. He was satisfied that fully processing the request would have imposed an unreasonable burden on EirGrid. He therefore decided that it would not be appropriate for him to require EirGrid to provide information to the appellant.
18 Sep 2017

In accordance with article 12(5) of the AIE Regulations, the Commissioner reviewed the Council's decision on the appellant's request. The Commissioner noted that the Council holds additional information, which was not taken into account in the Council's internal review decision. He varied the Council's internal review decision and required the Council to provide the appellant with access to eight traffic counts. With regard to article 7(3)(a)(ii) of the AIE Regulations, the Commissioner decided that it was reasonable for the Council to provide access to environmental information in a form other than that requested by the appellant.
29 Aug 2017