Citizens and the Environment

We all have a right to take part in certain decisions that affect our lives, our communities and our shared environment.

This guide provides some insight into how decisions affecting our built and natural environment are made, and who may be involved.

It also introduces you to rights you have in relation to certain environmental information and decisions, which are set-out in what is known as the Aarhus Convention.

Citizens and the Environment

Every day, many public bodies take different types of decisions that affect our lives and the environment in which we live, work and play.

These include, for example, decisions on where to locate a wind-farm, whether to build a motorway and where, and how to provide for the country’s future energy needs.

Key bodies that make decisions about the environment

Wooden train tracks

The key bodies when it comes to environmental decisions in Ireland include:

Government departments

Many different government departments have an environmental dimension to their work. These include departments dealing with agriculture, the environment, heritage, fisheries, food, energy, transport and health. For example:

  • the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources makes certain decisions in relation to energy infrastructure in Ireland such as certain of the permissions required to build a gas pipelines, or in making strategic plans for Ireland’s electricity supply.
  • the Department of the Environment Community and Local Government grants certain permissions in relation to development on the foreshore, such as for certain offshore oil-drilling developments.

It is important to be aware that the responsibilities of government departments or agencies can change from time to time. You can find out which department or agency is responsible for which area by looking on their websites, or contacting them directly. Most have information offices that handle public inquiries.

Local Authorities

Local authorities (City and Council Councils) are responsible for certain planning and development permissions.

They are also responsible for issuing permits or licences for certain amounts or types of waste collection or disposal. Permits and licences authorise holders to conduct an activity in accordance with the conditions stipulated.

The Toolkit Guide to Local Government has more detail on the work of City and County Councils.

More about waste permits and licences.

Other State agencies and bodies

There are many other bodies involved in making environmental decisions in Ireland. These include:

  • An Bord Pleanála, the national board that deals with planning appeals. It also makes planning decisions on major infrastructural projects which are considered to be strategic infrastructure – such as projects to enhance the national energy grid.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the national agency that monitors, regulates, policies and reports on the environment. It also makes certain licensing decisions such as on plants which require an industrial emissions licence.

Some agencies are responsible for collating and publishing key environmental reports. These include the EPA. View some of its reports, including a 2012 report on the State of Ireland’s Environment .

Other functions relevant to environmental decision-making

Bodies such as the EPA, local authorities and the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency can also have further responsibilities to enforce the law and/or to enforce compliance with the terms and conditions of licences or permissions granted. 

Some agencies are primarily research oriented, such as Teagasc , which is the agriculture and food development authority in Ireland. It supports science-based innovation in the agri-food sector and the broader bio-economy.

Environmental decision-making 

Train in countryside
Environmental decision making can be a complex process involving some or many public authorities, including those listed above. 

For example, a proposed gas pipeline development in Ireland could involve a number of different public consultation exercises and several types of decisions to issue permissions, licences and permits.

At many stages, there could be challenges/reviews to each of the decisions by individuals or organisations. In the case of a gas pipeline, the decision-making stages might include the following:

  • A local authority may be required to give planning permission which might involve an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This is a process which assesses the likely significant effects on the environment of a proposed development or project before granting consent.
  • The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources may need to grant permission for a Petroleum Lease and special consent from the Minister to construct a pipeline (known as ‘Section 40 consent’ under the Gas Act 1976).
  • If the decision involves a proposal to build a pipeline offshore, it may also require Continental Shelf Authorisation from the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
  • A foreshore licence from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government may be required.
  • A waste licence from the Environmental Protection Agency may be needed to allow the pipeline construction company to dispose of construction waste or other emissions from the proposed development.

For groups or individuals who are interested in getting involved in how decisions are made that affect our environment, it is important to understand the processes required and the different opportunities to contribute.

Engaging early in environmental decisions can be critical, particularly for large complex developments.


An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be submitted with an application for a development that requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

An EIA is a process which assesses the likely significant effects on the environment of a proposed development or project before consent can be granted.

An EIS report is just one component of the information required to aid decision-makers in making their ultimate decision about a project.

Many large scale infrastructural, industrial, agricultural commercial or urban developments may require an EIA. Various public authorities and government departments may be involved in such EIAs.


Environmental decision-making and the Aarhus Convention

When it comes to certain kinds of environmental matters, we have three key rights:

  • to environmental information
  • to participate in environmental decision-making
  • to request a review of certain environmental decisions, actions or failures

These rights are contained in a convention, or international legal agreement, which recognises the importance of a healthy environment to us all. 

This agreement is generally referred to as the Aarhus Convention after Danish City where it was signed in June 1998.

Its full title is the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

Three pillars of the Aarhus Convention

The rights set out in the Aarhus Convention are often referred to as ‘the three pillars’. 

This section of the guide provides a summary introduction to some elements of these three pillars and an insight into some of the ways they are relevant in an Irish context.  In brief, here is how they work:

Pillar 1: Right to environmental information
As an individual, you might want information on air quality near your home, for example, if you are concerned about emissions from a nearby industry. Under the convention you can request certain information. Public bodies are also required to proactively share certain environmental information that they hold.

Pillar 2: Right to participate in environmental decision-making
A community group or an individual might want to make comments on development proposals for a new motorway to the authority that is deciding whether to allow it or not. Under the convention you have rights to be made aware of  certain decision-making processes, and to participate in them.

Pillar 3: Right to request a review of environmental decisions, actions or failures
If your rights to access information or participate in decision-making have been refused or ignored, or there may be flaws in a decision by a local authority to grant permission to a wind-farm development. You or an environmental non-governmental organisation (eNGO) may wish to challenge the decision, and the convention provides certain rights on the reviews required.

Here is some more detail on each of the three pillars and how they work in practice:

Pillar 1 – your right to environmental information

There are two main aspects to the right under the Aarhus Convention to access ‘environmental information’ from public authorities. 

  • the requirement on public authorities to collect and provide certain information proactively, and
  • the requirement on public authorities to provide environmental information in response to specific requests.

Proactive release of environmental information

Some of the proactive requirements under the Aarhus Convention in relation to environmental information include:

All public authorities in Ireland must collect and maintain environmental information that is ‘directly relevant’ to their function, and let the public know what information they hold and how it can be accessed. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency routinely provides information on its waste licencing decisions, as this is one of its functions.

The types of environmental information which should be made accessible (including through electronic means) includes:

  • reports, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest state of the environment report, Ireland’s Environment, An Assessment (2012).  

  • plans, such as City/County Development Plans produced by local authorities. These plans establish how land in each City or County Council area can be used and developed during the plan’s six year operation. 

  • policies, such as the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s sustainable travel policy for Ireland for 2009-2020, 'Smarter Travel'.

  • environmental legislation, such as the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the Waste Management Acts.

  • data, such as the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register, a searchable database which lists more than 350 industrial facilities engaged in environmentally hazardous activities (and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency). 

In the event of any imminent threat to public health or the environment, whatever the cause, all information held by public authorities which could enable the public mitigate or limit the threats should be disseminated immediately.

Your right to request environmental information

The right to request environmental information from public authorities is frequently abbreviated to ‘AIE,’ as Access to Information on the Environment. 

You can ask to access environmental information that is held in any material form including written, visual, or electronic forms, and audio or video recordings. You do not have to say why you want the information.

It is free of charge for you to make an AIE request and you should only be charged a reasonable fee for the information released to you.

Organisations you can ask for environmental information using AIE

You can request information on the environment from any ‘public authority’. This broadly means bodies or organisations that have a role in public administration.

The Aarhus Convention itself specifies the characteristics of bodies which are covered by its provisions.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government publishes an ‘indicative list' of public authorities that you can ask for information from under the AIE rules.  These are:

  • Government Departments
  • Local authorities – City and County Councils
  • Non-commercial state agencies e.g. the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Commercial state agencies e.g. EirGrid
  • Regulatory bodies e.g. the Commission for Energy Regulation

Reasons for your request for environmental information to be refused

Your request can be refused by the public authority for a range of reasons. These include where disclosure of the information would adversely affect international relations, defence or public security or the course of justice. 

In deciding on an AIE request, officials must always weigh the public interest in releasing the information against the reasons for refusing to release it. There are also special rules that mean that, in general, you cannot be refused information about emissions into the environment.

What is environmental information?

It is important to realise that our rights to environmental information under the Aarhus Convention are based on a specific legal definition of what is meant by ‘environmental information’.

This may not be what we think it should be, or how we might understand the term ‘environmental information’ in every-day language.

Environmental information as defined by the Aarhus Convention is generally broader than what you might think it to be in ordinary language. In simple terms a helpful way of about it is that it includes information on things like the air that we breathe and which sustains life.

It also includes a wide range of things which can impact, directly or indirectly, on the elements of the environment like the air, such as emissions from a factory which has been licenced by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

For example, environmental information could cover a cost-benefit analysis associated with a decision to go with incineration versus some other approach for managing waste.

Certain public authorities have in the past refused to release information sought using AIE rules on the grounds that it was not legally ‘environmental information’. Arguments about what exactly constitutes ‘environmental information’ under the AIE rules, and what is a ‘public authority’ have led to appeals to the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information (OCEI) and to our courts.

Read more about Environmental Information.

Access to Information rules and Freedom of Information rules

AIE operates in parallel with, but is separate from, our right to access information from public bodies under the Freedom of Information (FOI) regime. While both AIE and FOI give us rights to request information from public bodies, there are important differences between the two systems.

While you can ask for environmental information using FOI rules, these are generally more restrictive than the special rules relating to environmental information under the AIE regime. 

For example, you can ask for information using the AIE rules from more public bodies than you can using the FOI regimes. This means if a public authority is not obliged to release records under our FOI law, you may still be able to get access to environmental information that it holds using the AIE rules.

There are also differences in the grounds for refusing to release information under the two different sets of rules.

The Do It Yourself section of this guide contains more information on how to request environmental information from a public authority using the AIE regime.
The Toolkit Guide to using FOI explains how that regime works.

Pillar 2 – your right to participate in environmental decision-making

The Aarhus Convention also gives us a right to participate in a range of decisions which may have impacts on the environment.  These include:

  • certain planning decisions such as those involving an Environmental Impact Assessment. This would include applications for planning permission for developments such as a new motorway.
  • certain other environmental licensing decisions, such as decisions to grant foreshore licences, waste licences and Integrated Pollution Prevention Control licences.

What is public participation on environmental decision-making?

The Aarhus Convention sets out requirements for public participation in certain environmental decisions.  It has slightly different requirements depending on the type of environmental decision that is to be made – for example, whether it relates to a proposed development, new legislation, or a national policy.

The requirements generally relate to practical issues, such as how the public is notified about a forthcoming environmental decision, the amount of time set aside for public consultations, and how public input is taken into account when a final decision is being made.

For example, when an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is being carried out, the public should be notified about, among other things:

  • the proposed activity 
  • the nature of possible decisions 
  • the public authority responsible for making the decision
  • the public participation procedure envisaged (including time frames) 
  • where relevant information can be found
  • whether there is a trans-boundary environmental impact procedure (meaning other nations and their public need to be consulted).

A notice about an EIA should be supplied in a place and a manner where the public is likely to become aware of it. So, for example, if notices about a forthcoming EIA are posted only in Garda stations where most of the public may not see them, that would not seem to be in accordance with the Convention’s requirements.

For some types of environmental decisions, public participation may be necessary at several stages along the way if it is to be effective and compliant with the Aarhus Convention.

For example, a national waste plan to come up with ways to dispose of household and industrial waste will start of at a high and very strategic level. This could be about which particular waste solutions to use and how to organise structures nationally. It may then move on to more detailed plans on exactly what kinds of technologies are best, then to proposals for specific waste facilities.

When it comes to decisions on developments which may have significant effects on the environment, public consultations may even have to be repeated , if environmental conditions change or the decision is reconsidered. 

For example, a peat burning station that has been licenced to operate for ten years could apply to extend its licence for another ten years but make no further changes to its plant.  The Aarhus Convention may mean that there would still be a requirement to facilitate notification and public participation in the environmental decision, which is whether to extend the plant’s operating licence.

This is because the Convention recognises that although the plant may not have changed, other things may have, including the environment in which it will be operating for a further ten years.

Pillar 3 – your right of ‘access to justice’ – to challenge decisions, actions and failures

Put simply, this means you have rights to request a review or challenge certain decisions by public authorities.  

This could take the form of an administrative appeal against a planning or environmental decision. For example, a planning decision made by a local authority might be appealed to An Bord Pleanála. It could also involve a ‘judicial review’ in the High Court to challenge a certain decision made by a public authority.

You also may have rights to challenge acts and omissions by members of the public or by public authorities where national law relating to the environment is being breached. In order to do this you must meet certain requirements to take such a challenge which is sometimes referred to as your ‘standing’.

This whole area is complex and evolving and it is sometimes not entirely clear exactly what sorts of decisions Irish national law allows to be challenged and whether this in accordance with the Aarhus Convention.

Getting professional legal advice is strongly advised where you have an important interest at stake, and most particularly if you are considering on embarking on a review of environmental decisions, which may or may not be covered by the Aarhus Convention and how Ireland has implemented it.

The Citizens Information service has more detailed information on this area.  You should also look at the websites of the relevant environmental decision-making bodies.

Getting involved in environmental issues

Our environment, and what happens to it and in it, is something many of us take for granted. It is often only when some development is proposed which impacts upon us that we get involved.  However, there are many good reasons to engage with our built and natural environment, and many different ways to do this.

  • participate in environmental decision-making
  • join or support an environmental group
  • make an Access to Information (AIE) request to get specific information

Participating in environmental decision-making

Train in station
Certain types of decisions on plans and strategies by government departments and public authorities involve public consultations, where comments are invited from the public and interested groups.  There is no common practice or standard approach to this and nowhere at present to sign up to be made aware of every public consultation relating to the environment.  

The Irish Environmental Network  which includes a number of environmental non-government organisations, tries to maintain a list of important environmental consultations underway.

It is also worth keeping an eye on the websites of the various environmental bodies and government departments. For example, the Department of the Environment lists all of its public consultations on the same web page.

Similarly, local authorities generally post notices about public consultations on their websites. A few councils even have dedicated ‘consultation hubs’. These include Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council   and Dublin City Council.  Upcoming planning decisions involving Environmental Impact Assessments are also advertised, along with details of the documentation available and the time frames for the consultations.

Joining or supporting an environmental group

Environmental groups

There are many groups and organisations around the country focused on protecting the environment.  Some operate on whole range of issues, some on very specific issues. Some are local, some national and some are global, and their geographic focus varies accordingly.

Most of these groups are membership-based. In Ireland environmental non-governmental groups (eNGOs) are hugely dependent on volunteers with varying degrees of knowledge and experience so don’t feel intimidated about approaching them.

Environmental networks

There are also organisations in Ireland which provide a wider network of support and interaction across groups. These provide information and links to many of the environmental or eNGO’s in Ireland. They also publish useful newsletters and information on public consultations.  

These include the Environmental Pillar (which is made up of 28 Irish environmental NGOs), the Irish Environmental Network, and the Sustainable Water Network.

Many of these organisations have email newsletters which you can sign up for – they have details of how to do this on their websites. 

See the Resources section of this guide for more information about and links to the websites of environmental groups.

Making an Access to Information (AIE) request

Coastal Railway Track
There are many reasons why you may want to get information about environmental issues.  For example, if you are concerned about the effectiveness of a waste water treatment plant and its impact on a local river, you may want to get information about discharges from the plant.  

Making a request for Access to Information on the Environment (an AIE request) is quite straight forward. However, there are some fundamental things to consider before you make an AIE request:

  1. Clarify what it is you want to know. Ask yourself what are you trying to achieve and why the information is important for that. 

  2. Ask yourself if there is any other way to get this information. Your first step should always be to try to find out whether the information is already published, or whether you can get it by searching on the internet or simply by asking for it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from the public body itself. 

  3. Check what you are looking for is covered by AIE rules. There are two separate tests you should apply:

    • Is the information you are requesting ‘ environmental information ’ as legally defined? AIE can only be used to get information that is legally considered ‘environmental information’. As explained in the How it Works section of this guide, the intention of the legal definition is to be broad ranging.
    • Is the body you are requesting the information from a ‘ public authority ’ as legally defined? AIE can only be used to get information from bodies who are considered to be ‘public authorities’ as legally defined. For the most part, most public bodies are clear about whether or not they are subject to AIE. 

  4. As there is no charge for making an AIE request, it may be sensible to submit your request and see what the decision you are given is, and take it from there as outlined in the section below. 

  5. Be aware you may be charged for the supply of the information. 

Submitting your AIE request:

Once you have decided that AIE is the right tool for getting the information you seek, there are certain requirements under the Irish regulations on AIE. You must:

  • make your AIE request in writing – by email or letter
  • state that you are making an AIE request
  • specify the format in which you want the information, e.g. electronic or paper copy
  • provide your contact details 
  • state the information you are requesting as specifically as possible

Tips for making an AIE request

Find out who to send it
You should send your AIE request the public authority that has the information you seekCertain public authorities’ websites clearly provide information on what information they have and their AIE process. For others, you may have to search their websites and also look for the contact details for the official who handles AIE requests.

Frequently you will find that AIE requests should be directed to the officer who also handles Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. But you should still make it clear you are making an AIE request, not an FOI request.

Be specific about the information you want
If you can be specific about the time period of the records you are requesting, this will help officials be focused in answering your request. For example you may wish to request records on water quality at a specific location between January 1st 2012 and March 20th 2013 only.

The public authority has an obligation to provide the information you are requesting 'as soon as possible' and no later than a month.

A time extension of a further month is allowed for large and complex requests. Therefore small simple requests for information which is readily available should be handled in less than one month. The more limited you can make your request the less likely it is to be refused for being unreasonable.

Request an acknowledgement
It is good practice to request an acknowledgement of your request, and details of who will be dealing with your request. This shows that you are keen to be kept up to date with your request.

Mark your calendar to remind you of key dates for processing your request
Public authorities are obliged to provide the information requested under AIE as soon as possible. They can legally take up to a month (and a further month if they notify you that the request is complex and/or large and needs more time to process). Mark your calendar a few days before the month is up so you are on the alert to check for a response, and to process it.

In making your request, you may wish to use the following form of words (based on current requirements):

“[Insert the date of your request. This is important as the whole process is time-sensitive]

Dear Sir/Madam,

I wish to make a request for Access to Information on the Environment under the provisions of:

EU Directive 2003/4/EC ‘Access to Information on the Environment’; and
SI 133/2007 European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007, as amended.

I am writing to request a copy of [insert details of the information you are looking for] held by [insert name of the public authority] relating to [insert name of the relevant issue] for the period [insert x date to y date]. 

I would like to receive the information in the following format [specify preferred format] at the address given below.

If you have any questions or need to clarify this request, please do not hesitate to contact me by [ by phone, email or letter] at the contact details provided.

Yours sincerely,

[insert name and contact details]

What happens after you submit your AIE request?

Briefly, here are the main steps in how your AIE request should be handled:

• You should receive an acknowledgement of your request in writing (by letter or email). If you don’t, it’s a good idea to email or ring to ensure it has been received.

• You should receive a decision on your request within one month. This can be extended to two months if your request is complex or is for particularly large amount of information. This will include a letter setting out the decision and, separately, the information you requested.

• If your request is refused, you can request an internal review. This means that a more senior decision-maker in the public authority will re-examine your request. You must make your request for an internal review within a month of receiving the initial decision. The original decision letter should advise you who to make the request for an internal review to.

• If you receive no response after a month from the date when you submitted your request, you are entitled to consider this as a refusal. In that case, you can request an internal review.

• Again, your internal review should take no more than one month. In general, but not always, public authorities maintain the original decision. However sometimes you may get more information at internal review stage. There is no charge for an internal review of a decision by a public authority. However, if the internal review decides that the information you requested should be given to you, you may be charged for photocopying etc. The Commissioner for Environmental Information has indicated that charges shouldn’t be levied if you’ve had to request information that should have been readily available from the public authority.

• If you are still unhappy with the decision on your request, you can appeal the matter to the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information (OCEI). There is a fee of €50 for making an appeal to the OCEI, unless you are entitled to a reduced fee of €15. Details of fees are available on the OCEI website. It also has information on how to make an appeal to the OCEI. You can do this by filling in an online form or in writing. 

• In many cases you will not need to appeal. However, if you do need to appeal, you should bear in mind that it can take some time for the OECI to reach a decision.

• If the OCEI rules against the public authority and in your favour, the public authority may challenge the OCEI’s decision in the courts. If the OCEI upholds the public authority’s decision and rules against you, you also can decide to challenge their final decision in the courts. You should seek legal advice if considering doing this. You should also bear in mind that strict timescales apply.


How people power helped bring fresh energy to public consultations


As part of its planning for Ireland’s future energy policy, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources launched a public consultation in May 2014.

This involved inviting groups and individuals to make written submissions on the department’s discussion document, called the Green Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland.

An alliance of energy interest groups, the People’s Energy Charter (PEC),  set to work to try to ensure that the consultations went beyond inviting written submissions, and were active and inclusive. Their perseverance, echoed by others, eventually paid off.

Here, the PEC’s Theresa O'Donohoe details the group’s efforts:

Problem identified

“When the public consultation on the department’s Green Paper on Ireland's future energy policy was launched, we said to ourselves: "This is a test bed for us, let’s see if we can help get comprehensive public participation on our future energy policy."

Comprehensive public participation requires time. People need to know what they are being asked to participate in, explore the options, weigh up pros and cons, visualise the possibilities and then design the end product.

People are concerned about many things to do with our future energy, including climate change, fracking, oil drilling, industrial wind farms and the grid infrastructure to support these. These developments mainly impact rural communities. Our point was that the country’s energy policy has to come from its communities, not just business or industry.

Working for change

We contacted department officials and met with them, seeking a comprehensive public participation on the future energy policy. At a public event, I handed a copy of the same request to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

In the end, the department put on a total of 12 workshops, most in Dublin but also in four regions – Sligo, Cork, Wexford and Moate, Co Westmeath. These were attended by the Assistant Secretary of the department, who is a senior decision-maker. The department even livestreamed the Dublin workshops and the regional workshops are recorded and available online.

The message given from people attending all of these events was for the need to involve and facilitate communities more. We believe that while this consultation was a big improvement on what had originally been planned, unless it prepares the ground for further public participation processes regionally and locally it may still not be comprehensive enough for a national energy policy.

Advice for others working for change

“We really had to build capacity within the People’s Energy Charter to get officials to listen to us. You are only taken seriously at the table if you’ve shown capacity and you have staying power. We were only established six months when the consultation began.

Developing a respectful relationship with officials is of course essential. Showing them practical manifestations of your proposals also helps. For example, someone brought one official to see a community energy project. This was a way of demonstrating the possibilities out there and the ability of communities to find their own energy solutions.

There’s no doubt that face-to-face meetings and workshops are a much better way of making your point than just sending emails or making written submissions. I’d say perseverance is paramount and interpersonal skills are gold dust.

You also need to recognise and leverage your own group’s skills. For example, the person who can make a point very well in writing may not be the best communicator face-to-face."

Videos of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources' regional consultation seminars

More information on the People’s Energy Charter 



Environmental networks

Here are some key umbrella organisations whose websites can lead you to a whole range of Irish environmental non-governmenta organisations (eNGOs), and also some individual ones who are very active in relation to the Aarhus Convention.

The Environmental Pillar

The Environmental Pillar is made up of 28 national environmental non-governmental organisations (eNGOs) who work together to represent the views of the Irish environmental sector.

The Sustainable Water Network

The Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) is an umbrella network of twenty-six of Ireland’s leading environmental groups working together to protect Ireland’s waters by participating in the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) , Marine Strategy Framework and other water related policy in Ireland.

SWAN is made up of national and local groups with a wide range of specialist and local knowledge and expertise in all areas of Ireland’s aquatic environment.

Environmental groups

An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland

An Taisce is an eNGO which is also part of both the Environmental Pillar and SWAN. It work focuses on a wide range of environmental matters impacting on the built and natural environment. It makes requests for Access to Environmental Information and participates in a wide range of decisions including policy decisions and decisions on developments.

It has pursued reviews of a number of environmental decisions including reviews in the courts, using the Aarhus Convention.

Friends Of The Irish Environment

Friends of the Irish Environment is an eNGO. It makes requests for access to environmental information, participates in a wide range of decisions including policy decisions and decisions on developments, and has pursued reviews of a number of environmental decisions including reviews in the courts, using the Aarhus Convention

Guides to the Aarhus Convention


The Aarhus Convention: An implementation Guide

Publication cover - Aarhus_Implementation_Guide_interactive_eng

The Aarhus Convention: An Implementation Guide (2014) is a detailed, expert-written guide published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe UNECE.

It is intended as a convenient non-legally binding and user-friendly reference tool to assist policymakers, legislators and public authorities in their daily work of implementing the Convention. It can also be used by members of the public and environmental non-governmental organisations who want to exercise their rights under the Convention.
The Implementation Guide provides both a general overview of the principles behind the Convention and a detailed article-by-article analysis of its provisions.

  Quick Guide to the Aarhus Convention

Publication cover - Aarhus_brochure_Protecting_your_environment_eng

Protecting your environment: the power is in your hands, quick guide to the Aarhus Convention  is a 32-page guide, also published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe UNECE.



Citizens Information Guides

The Citizens Information Board publishes guides to the three key core rights of the Aarhus Convention:

Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government

Department of the Environment documents and flowcharts on:

Key Aarhus/AIE bodies

The Secretariat to the Aarhus Convention
The Secretariat to the Aarhus Convention provides administrative and support functions, for example to support the effective running of structures supporting the implementation of the Aarhus convention, such as the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee.

Office of the Commissioner of Environmental Information (OECI)
The OECI handles appeals of decisions by public authorities to refuse

access to information on the environment requests.