The Aarhus Convention<br />Access To Information, Participation, <br />and Justice <br />In Environmental Decision-Making....
The Aarhus Convention<br />UNECE Conventionon <br />Access to Information, <br />Public Participation in Decision-making a...
Background:<br />1992<br />178 governments including Ireland sign theRio Declaration. Principle 10of the Declaration manda...
            public participation
            and effective access to judicial proceedings.</li></ul>    These three rights are known as the Access Principl...
Principle 10 (P.10), of the ‘Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992’, states:<br />    “Environmental issues...
1998 The Århus Convention<br />The UNECE draws up a Convention to convert the aspirations of Principle 10 into Internation...
09/10/2010<br />Centre for Sustainability, IT Sligo.<br />6<br />State of Ratification<br />
www.environmentalpillar.ie  www.environmentaldemocracy.ie<br />7<br />The Three Legged Convention<br />
Article 4ACCESS TO ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION<br />1. Each Party shall ensure that, subject to the following paragraphs of ...
EU Directives<br />Directive 2003/4/EC on access to information on the environment.<br />     (S.I. No 133 of 2007)<br />D...
S.I. No. 133 of 2007EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THEENVIRONMENT) REGULATIONS 2007<br />5. General duties...
Environmental Information(1)<br />(a) the state of the elements of the environment, such as air and atmosphere,water, soil...
Environmental Information(2)<br />(d) reports on the implementation of environmental legislation,<br />(e) cost-benefit an...
“Public authority” means:<br />(a) Government at national, regional and other level;<br />(b) Natural or legal persons per...
Public Authority<br />“public authority” means, subject to sub-article (2)—<br />(a) government or other public administra...
General duties of public authority<br />5. A public authority shall—<br />(a) inform the public of their rights under thes...
Request for environmental information<br />6. (1) A request for environmental information shall—<br />(a) be made in writi...
Action on request<br />7. (1) A public authority shall, notwithstanding any other statutory provisionand subject only to t...
Action on request (2)<br />(b)Where a public authority is unable, because of the volume or complexityof the environmental ...
Mandatory Grounds for Refusal<br />8. A public authority shall not make available environmental information inaccordance w...
Discretionary grounds<br />a) international relations, national defence or public security,<br />(b) the course of justice...
Incidental provisions relating to refusal of information<br />10. (1) Notwithstanding articles 8 and 9 (1)(c), a request f...
Internal review of refusal<br />11. (1) Where the applicant’s request has been refused under article 7, inwhole or in part...
Appeal to Commissioner for Environmental Information<br />(4) Where the decision under sub-article (2) affirms a decision ...
Appeal to Commissioner for Environmental Information<br />12. (4) <br />(a) An appeal under this article shall be initiate...
Action by the Commissioner<br />(6) The Commissioner may, for the purposes of this article, do any of the following:<br />...
Action by the Commissioner (2)<br />(7) A public authority shall comply with a decision of the Commissionerunder sub-artic...
High Court Appeal<br />A party to the appeal or any other person affected by this decision may appeal to the High Court on...
Summary<br />Request in writing<br />1 or 2 months to reply<br />Internal Appeal 1 month<br />Appeal to Commissioner<br />...
http://www.environ.ie/en/AboutUs/AccesstoInformationontheEnvironment/RHLegislation/FileDownLoad,2479,en.pdf<br />http://ww...
Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Informationhttp://www.ocei.gov.ie/en/<br />
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Access to information on the environment

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session 3 information sources
Access to information on the environment and environmental democracy
by Michael Ewing
co-ordinator of the environmental pillar of social partnership

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Access to information on the environment

  1. 1. The Aarhus Convention<br />Access To Information, Participation, <br />and Justice <br />In Environmental Decision-Making.<br />An introduction by<br />Michael Ewing <br /> Coordinator of the Environmental Pillar<br />www.environmentalpillar.ie<br />
  2. 2. The Aarhus Convention<br />UNECE Conventionon <br />Access to Information, <br />Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice <br />in Environmental Matters<br />http://www.unece.org/env/pp/documents/cep43e.pdf<br />http://www.unece.org/env/pp/acig.pdf<br />
  3. 3. Background:<br />1992<br />178 governments including Ireland sign theRio Declaration. Principle 10of the Declaration mandated <br /><ul><li> access to information
  4. 4. public participation
  5. 5. and effective access to judicial proceedings.</li></ul> These three rights are known as the Access Principles.<br />
  6. 6. Principle 10 (P.10), of the ‘Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992’, states:<br /> “Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriateaccess to informationconcerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, andthe opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available.Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided”.<br />
  7. 7. 1998 The Århus Convention<br />The UNECE draws up a Convention to convert the aspirations of Principle 10 into International Law. <br />Convention.<br />The Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters<br />Ireland is a signatory, but as yet has not ratified the Convention.<br />
  8. 8. 09/10/2010<br />Centre for Sustainability, IT Sligo.<br />6<br />State of Ratification<br />
  9. 9. www.environmentalpillar.ie www.environmentaldemocracy.ie<br />7<br />The Three Legged Convention<br />
  10. 10. Article 4ACCESS TO ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION<br />1. Each Party shall ensure that, subject to the following paragraphs of this article, public authorities, in response to a request for environmental information, make such information available to the public, within the framework of national legislation, including, where requested and subject to subparagraph (b) below, copies of the actual documentation containing or comprising such information:<br /> (a) Without an interest having to be stated;<br /> (b) In the form requested unless:<br /> (i) It is reasonable for the public authority to make it available in another form, in which case reasons shall be given for making it available in that form; or<br /> (ii) The information is already publicly available in another form.<br />
  11. 11. EU Directives<br />Directive 2003/4/EC on access to information on the environment.<br /> (S.I. No 133 of 2007)<br />Directive 2003/35/EC on participation in environmental decision-making.<br />THE SEA Directive (Article 6)<br />The Water Framework Directive (article 14)<br />
  12. 12. S.I. No. 133 of 2007EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON THEENVIRONMENT) REGULATIONS 2007<br />5. General duties of public authority.<br />6. Request for environmental information.<br />8. Grounds that, subject to article 10, mandate a refusal.<br />9. Discretionary grounds for refusal of information.<br />10. Incidental provisions relating to refusal of information.<br />11. Internal review of refusal.<br />12. Appeal to Commissioner for Environmental Information.<br />13. Appeal to High Court on point of law.<br />
  13. 13. Environmental Information(1)<br />(a) 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,<br />(b) factors, such as substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste, includingradioactive waste, emissions, discharges and other releases into theenvironment, affecting or likely to affect the elements of the environment,<br />(c) measures (including administrative measures), such as policies, legislation,plans, programmes, environmental agreements, and activitiesaffecting or likely to affect the elements and factors referred to inparagraphs (a) and (b) as well as measures or activities designed toprotect those elements,<br />
  14. 14. Environmental Information(2)<br />(d) reports on the implementation of environmental legislation,<br />(e) cost-benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions used withinthe framework of the measures and activities referred to in paragraph<br />(c), and<br />(f) the state of human health and safety, including the contamination ofthe food chain, where relevant, conditions of human life, cultural sitesand built structures inasmuch as they are, or may be, affected by of the elements of the environment referred to in paragraph<br />(a) or, through those elements, by any of the matters referred to inparagraphs (b) and (c);<br />
  15. 15. “Public authority” means:<br />(a) Government at national, regional and other level;<br />(b) Natural or legal persons performing public administrative functions under national law, including specific duties, activities or services in relation to the environment;<br />(c) Any other natural or legal persons having public responsibilities or functions, or providing public services, in relation to the environment, under the control of a body or person falling within subparagraphs (a) or (b)<br />
  16. 16. Public Authority<br />“public authority” means, subject to sub-article (2)—<br />(a) government or other public administration, including public advisorybodies, at national, regional or local level,<br />(b) any natural or legal person performing public administrative functionsunder national law, including specific duties, activities or services inrelation to the environment, and<br />any natural or legal person having public responsibilities or functions,or providing public services, relating to the environment under the<br />control of a body or person falling within paragraph (a) or (b),<br />
  17. 17. General duties of public authority<br />5. A public authority shall—<br />(a) inform the public of their rights under these Regulations and theDirective and provide information and guidance on the exercise of those rights, and<br />(b) make all reasonable efforts to maintain environmental informationheld by or for it in a form or manner that is readily reproducible andaccessible by information technology or by other electronic means.<br />
  18. 18. Request for environmental information<br />6. (1) A request for environmental information shall—<br />(a) be made in writing or electronic form,<br />(b) state that the request is made under these Regulations,<br />(c) state the name, address and any other relevant contact details of theapplicant,<br />(d) state, in terms that are as specific as possible, the environmental informationthat is the subject of the request, and<br />(e) if the applicant desires access to environmental information in a particularform or manner, specify the form or manner of access desired.<br />(2) An applicant shall not be required to state his or her interest in making the request.<br />
  19. 19. Action on request<br />7. (1) A public authority shall, notwithstanding any other statutory provisionand subject only to these Regulations, make available to the applicant anyenvironmental information, the subject of the request, held by, or for, the public authority.<br />(2) (a) A public authority shall make a decision on a request and, whereappropriate, make the information available to the applicant as soonas possible and, at the latest, but subject to paragraph (b) and sub-article(10), not later than one month from the date on which suchrequest is received by the public authority concerned.<br />
  20. 20. Action on request (2)<br />(b)Where a public authority is unable, because of the volume or complexityof the environmental information requested, to make adecision within one month from the date on which such request isreceived, it shall, as soon as possible and at the latest, before the expiry of that month—<br />(i) give notice in writing to the applicant of the reasons why it is notpossible to do so, and<br />(ii) specify the date, not later than 2 months from the date on whichthe request was received, by which the response shall be made,<br />
  21. 21. Mandatory Grounds for Refusal<br />8. A public authority shall not make available environmental information inaccordance with article 7 where disclosure of the information—<br />(a) would adversely affect—<br />the confidentiality of personal information relating to a naturalperson who has not consented to the disclosure of the information,and where that confidentiality is otherwise protected by law,<br />the interests of any person who, voluntarily and without beingunder, or capable of being put under, a legal obligation to doso, supplied the information requested, unless that person hasconsented to the release of that information,<br />(iii) the protection of the environment to which that information relates, or<br />(iv) without prejudice to paragraph (b), the confidentiality of the proceedingsof public authorities, where such confidentiality is otherwiseprotected by law (including the Freedom of InformationActs 1997 and 2003 witrespect to exempt records within the meaning of those Acts); or <br />b) to the extent that it would involve the disclosure of discussions at oneormore meetings of the Government, is prohibited by Article 28 of the Constitution.<br />
  22. 22. Discretionary grounds<br />a) international relations, national defence or public security,<br />(b) the course of justice (including criminal inquiries and disciplinaryinquiries),<br />(c) commercial or industrial confidentiality, where such confidentiality isprovided for in national or Community law to protect a legitimate economic interest, or<br />(d) intellectual property rights.<br />
  23. 23. Incidental provisions relating to refusal of information<br />10. (1) Notwithstanding articles 8 and 9 (1)(c), a request for environmentalinformation shall not be refused where the request relates to information on emissions into the environment.<br />(4) The grounds for refusal of a request for environmental information shallbe interpreted on a restrictive basis having regard to the public interest served by disclosure.<br />
  24. 24. Internal review of refusal<br />11. (1) Where the applicant’s request has been refused under article 7, inwhole or in part, the applicant may, not later than one month following receiptof the decision of the public authority concerned, request the public authorityto review the decision, in whole or in part.<br />(2) Following receipt of a request for a review under sub-article (1), the publicauthority concerned shall designate a person unconnected with the originaldecision whose rank is the same as, or higher than, that of the original decision-makerto review the decision and that person shall—<br />(a) affirm, vary or annul the decision, and<br />(b) where appropriate, require the public authority to make availableenvironmental information to the applicant,in accordance with these Regulations.<br />(3) A decision under sub-article (2) shall be notified to the applicant withinone month from receipt of the request for the internal review.<br />
  25. 25. Appeal to Commissioner for Environmental Information<br />(4) Where the decision under sub-article (2) affirms a decision under article7, or varies it in a way that results in the request being refused in whole or inpart, the public authority concerned shall—<br />(a) specify the reasons for the decision under sub-article (2), and<br />(b) inform the applicant of his or her right of appeal in accordance withthese Regulations, including the time within which such right may be exercised.<br />
  26. 26. Appeal to Commissioner for Environmental Information<br />12. (4) <br />(a) An appeal under this article shall be initiated—<br />(i) not later than one month after receipt of the decision under article11(3), or<br />(ii) where no decision is notified by a public authority, not later thanone month from the time when a decision was required to be notified under article 11(3).<br />(b) Where the Commissioner is satisfied, in the circumstances of a particularcase, that it is reasonable to do so, he or she may extend thetime for initiating an appeal under this sub-article.<br />Fee of €150<br />
  27. 27. Action by the Commissioner<br />(6) The Commissioner may, for the purposes of this article, do any of the following:<br />(a) require a public authority to make available environmental informationto the Commissioner and, where appropriate—<br />(i) require the public authority concerned to attend before the Commissioner for that purpose, and<br />(ii) where the public authority is a body corporate, require its chief officer to attend,<br />(b) examine and take copies of any environmental information held by apublic authority and retain it in his or her possession for a reasonable period,<br />(c) enter any premises occupied by a public authority and there requireto be furnished with such environmental information as he or shemay reasonably require, or take such copies of, or extracts from, anyenvironmental information found or made available on the premises.<br />
  28. 28. Action by the Commissioner (2)<br />(7) A public authority shall comply with a decision of the Commissionerunder sub-article (5) within 3 weeks after its receipt.<br />(8) Where a public authority fails to comply with a decision of the Commissionerwithin the period specified in sub-article (7), the Commissioner mayapply to the High Court for an order directing the public authority to complywith that decision and, on the hearing of such aapplication, the High Courtmay grant such relief accordingly.<br />
  29. 29. High Court Appeal<br />A party to the appeal or any other person affected by this decision may appeal to the High Court on a point of law from the decision. Such an appeal must be initiated not later than two months after notice of the decision is given<br />
  30. 30. Summary<br />Request in writing<br />1 or 2 months to reply<br />Internal Appeal 1 month<br />Appeal to Commissioner<br />€150<br />Appeal to the High Court – any person affected or commissioner<br />
  31. 31. http://www.environ.ie/en/AboutUs/AccesstoInformationontheEnvironment/RHLegislation/FileDownLoad,2479,en.pdf<br />http://www.environ.ie/en/AboutUs/AccesstoInformationontheEnvironment/RHLegislation/FileDownLoad,2481,en.pdf<br />
  32. 32. Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Informationhttp://www.ocei.gov.ie/en/<br />
  33. 33. The bread has to be good, but the filling is what makes it a sandwich !<br />
  34. 34. Thank You Goraibhmaithagat<br />

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