Search & retrieval fees no longer apply to AIE requests

Following an appeal by Pat Swords, the Commissioner for Environmental Information (detailed here) ruled that the Department of the Environment was not within its rights to charge search and retrieval fees on his request, as this was essentially contrary to the Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) 2007/2011 Regulations. The Department had 8 weeks in which to appeal that decision to the High Court, if they disagreed.

The Department has confirmed to that they have not pursued an appeal.

The implication is that no public authority within the AIE regime may charge for search and retrieval. The Department has removed references to the previously mentioned €20.95/hour search and retrieval fee, and has advised us that it is in the process of updating guidance to public authorities in this matter.

So a note to members of the public and journalists: public authorities can no longer charge for search and retrieval for AIE requests. However, such fees still apply to FOI requests.