Emily O'Reilly, the Information Commissioner, has disallowed the fee charged by Sligo County Council for providing information on the environment under new Irish Regulations. The Access to Information on the Environment Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 133 of 2007) came into effect last year. This implements a 2003 European Directive and operates in parallel to the Freedom of Information Act.
In a case brought by Open Focus in County Sligo, the organization had asked for the details of waste water and sewage treatment plants in the County. Sligo County Council had sought €285 for providing this information. The Commissioner found that Sligo County Council had failed to make available to the public ‘a list of fees charged, information on how they are calculated and the circumstances under which they may be waived'.
The Information Commission also stated that she ‘did not agree' with the Department's Guidelines which permit charging for ‘staff costs connected with searching and retrieving the information'. She had ‘difficulty reconciling this with the Directive's and the Guidelines stricture that that no charge can be made if the requester examines the environmental information in situ'.URL of decision: http://www.oic.gov.ie/en/LatestNews