Submission on the review of the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007-2018
CLM recognises an urgent need for consolidation and amendment of the AIE Regulation 2007-2018 (“the Regulations”) to ensure that they properly implement and effect the Aarhus Convention, applicable EU Directives and other relevant international law.
The core priority in this exercise is to set a strong legislative basis for meaningful access to information in environmental matters. Such access is integral to enabling the two further pillars of the Aarhus Convention, specifically meaningful public participation in environmental decision-making and effective access to justice.
CLM has concerns that this consultation has not operated in a manner consistent with the Aarhus principles of public participation given the provision of limited and overly complex information in the consultation paper and the short consultation period. Such deficiencies underscore the imperative for full legislative and public policy commitment to proactively disseminating environmental information to the public and ensuring effective, timely and fair processes for such access.
In summary, CLM makes the following specific recommendations:
- Design and implementation of a human rights and equality matrix to be part of the consultation process to ensure full public engagement and participation on environmental matters.
- Amendments that provide for a strong legal basis for meaningful and timely access to environmental information and that facilitate effective implementation of the participation in decision-making and access to justice pillars of the Aarhus Convention.
- Amendments to Article 6 to reduce administrative barriers to requests for environmental information to ensure accessibility of that information.
- Amendments to Article 7 to ensure timeliness of access throughout the process, including initial request and appeal stages.
- Amendments to Article 12 to ensure timeliness in the processing of appeals to the OCEI.
- Insertion of new provisions to impose more rigorous duties on public authorities to actively disseminate environmental information to the public.
- Amendment to Article 15 to extend the reduced appeal fee to non-governmental organisations.
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