Three days after the Irish Government implemented the European Directive 2003/4/EC on Public Access to Information on the Environment, its delay has been condemned in a ruling by the European Court of Justice.

Today's Judgement states that 'by failing to adopt within the period prescribed the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the directive, Ireland has failed to fulfil its obligations under the directive.' Costs have also been awarded against Ireland.

SI 133 of 2007, which was published on 1 May, transposes the Directive into Irish law.

However, Friends of the Irish Environment have suggested that the imposition of a €150 fee for an appeal where public bodies refuse to allow any information to be released may infringe the Directive, which states that "any such procedure shall be expeditious and either free of charge or inexpensive."

FIE is also concerned that 'public authorities' are not listed in the Statutory Instrument. 'This leaves the status of organizations like the State Forestry Board, Coillte Teo., in a legal limbo', the group said. Finally, FIE is questioning the requirement that anyone seeking information quote the new legislation. 'There is no such requirement in the Directive and the rights accruing from the legislation should apply whether or not a citizen is aware of the Directive, given the importance of the environment to everyone.'

PRESS RELEASE

TODAY'S JUDGEMENT
Three days after the Irish Government implemented the European Directive 2003/4/EC on Public Access to Information on the Environment, its delay has been condemned in a ruling by the European Court of Justice.

Today's Judgement states that 'by failing to adopt within the period prescribed the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the directive, Ireland has failed to fulfil its obligations under the directive.' Costs have also been awarded against Ireland.

SI 133 of 2007, which was published on 1 May, transposes the Directive into Irish law.

However, Friends of the Irish Environment have suggested that the imposition of a €150 fee for an appeal where public bodies refuse to allow any information to be released may infringe the Directive, which states that "any such procedure shall be expeditious and either free of charge or inexpensive."

FIE is also concerned that 'public authorities' are not listed in the Statutory Instrument. 'This leaves the status of organizations like the State Forestry Board, Coillte Teo., in a legal limbo', the group said. Finally, FIE is questioning the requirement that anyone seeking information quote the new legislation. 'There is no such requirement in the Directive and the rights accruing from the legislation should apply whether or not a citizen is aware of the Directive, given the importance of the environment to everyone.'

PRESS RELEASE

TODAY'S JUDGEMENT
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