Assessing Access To Information, Participation, and Justice in Environmental Decision Making in Ireland

Synthesis Report for the ERTDI-funded project: 2005-SD-MS-47

Summary: STRIVE Report 86 - Michael Ewing, Alison Hough and Magnus Amajirionwu

STRIVE Report 86 thumbnail

Published: 2011

ISBN: 978-1-84095-428-9

Pages: 50

Filesize: 760 KB

Format: pdf


Please note this report is based on research undertaken prior to legislative changes introduced by the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 and the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011. Both these pieces of legislation are relevant to implementation of the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice and Directive 2003/35/EC on Public Participation Directive, in Ireland.

Public participation in environmental decision making is essential if the necessary hard decisions that are needed if humanity is to have a sustainable future are to be supported by the wider community. This research looked at the three factors that make participation possible:                                

  1. Access to information;
  2. Ability to participate in decision making that affects the environment; and
  3. Access to justice.

These three ‘pillars’ were originally established by Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration of 1992 and then incorporated as human rights into the Aarhus Convention of 1998, to which Ireland is a signatory. It is Ireland’s implementation of the Aarhus Convention that was examined in detail in this research.

The research looked at individual situations (case studies) under each of the pillars. Each case study was examined using a series of indicators (research questions) to measure the quality of the relevant legislation, the effort made to implement it, and the effectiveness of the effort. The findings under each indicator were then rated by the researcher using a five-point hierarchy ranging from very bad to very good. These rankings were illustrated using colours from red (very bad) to dark green (very good). This methodology was developed by an international coalition of non-government organisations (NGOs),known as The Access Initiative (TAI).

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