In this section we set out the basis for the right of access to environmental information.
European law guarantees the right of public access to environmental information held by or for public authorities. It does this by means of European Directive 2003/4/EC on public access to environmental information. This Directive is commonly known as the "AIE Directive".
The following statutory instruments (S.I.s) give effect to the AIE Directive in Ireland. These are:
Together, these are known as the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 to 2018 or "the AIE Regulations".
An unofficial consolidated version of the above instruments brings them together so that they can read as one here. While this document comes with a disclaimer saying that it is not itself a legal document and it has no legal status, it is a very helpful document. Many people use it as their primary source of information on AIE law.
The AIE Directive was introduced to give effect to an international convention known as the Aarhus Convention. This convention was drawn up by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. Its full title is the "Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters". The Irish Courts have considered the Convention when deciding how the AIE Directive and Irish AIE Regulations should be interpreted.