About Environmental Information
The definition of "environmental information" in the Directive and in the Regulations is broad. It covers information "in written, visual, aural, electronic or any other material form" on the following six categories:
- the state of the elements of the environment (e.g., air, water, soil, land, landscape, biological diversity),
- factors affecting or likely to affect the elements of the environment (e.g., energy, noise, radiation, waste, emissions),
- measures (e.g., policies, legislation, plans, programmes, environmental agreements) and activities affecting or likely to affect the elements and factors referred to above 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 above, and
- the state of human health and safety, 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.
However, requests relating to emissions into the environment cannot, in most cases, be refused. All requests are subject to consideration of the public interest under Article 10(3) of the Regulations. Moreover, Article 10(4) provides that the grounds for refusal of a request shall be interpreted on a restrictive basis having regard to the public interest.
Where no decision is notified by the public authority, the Regulations provide for a right of appeal on the basis of a deemed refusal.
Guidance Notes relating to the implementation of the Regulations have been published by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (the Department). The Notes, which include the text of the Regulations and Directive, are available on the Department's website at www.environ.ie and on this website at www.ocei.gov.ie. Although public authorities are required to have regard to the guidelines published by the Department in performing their functions under the Regulations, the guidelines do not purport to be a legal interpretation of the Regulations.