Right to Know asks Minister Eamon Ryan to step in over unjustified appeal fees in access to environmental information cases

Right to Know has asked Environment Minister Eamon Ryan to intervene over the imposition of fees in appeal cases for access to environmental information.

For each case, a €50 fee is being applied by the Commissioner for Environmental Information (CEI) even though the Aarhus Convention, under which such requests are made, is intended to ensure the widest possible access to environmental information.

Right to Know has run up thousands of euros in these appeal costs over the past number of years.

Many of the appeals relate to manifestly incorrect decisions by public bodies and semi-states, where the issues involved have already been decided upon multiple times before.

However, public bodies are abusing the appeal system knowing that cases often take a couple of years before being decided.

Last year, we wrote to Minister Ryan asking him to suspend the charging of appeal fees by the Commissioner for Environmental Information (CEI).

His office never responded.

Following our letter, the CEI paused charging fees. However, their position has recently changed and they have now sought a payment of €800 from our transparency group.

As a small not-for-profit, supported only by contributions from the public, this is a very significant cost.

We have again written to Minister Ryan, who is after all a member of the Green Party, asking him to suspend the appeal fee.

We have also asked that he, as a matter of urgency, put in place a permanent legislative amendment to remove the unjustified fee entirely.

You can read the letters below: