Dáil Éireann - Volume 605 - 28 June, 2005

Written Answers - EU Directives.

  819. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he intends to introduce legislation to transpose Directive 2003/04/EC on public access to environmental information; and the public consultation which is planned in this regard (details supplied). [22721/05]

  820. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he intends to introduce legislation to transpose Directive 2003/35/EC and the public consultation which is planned in this regard (details supplied). [22722/05]

  821. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress which has been made to in implementing the Aarhus Convention; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22723/05]

  823. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason his Department is advising State agencies such as the EPA that Directive 2003/04/EC on public access to environmental information does not have direct effect as against emanations of the State and that they should not implement it. [22725/05]

  Mr. Roche:I propose to take Questions Nos. 819 to 821, inclusive, and 823 together.

Ireland signed the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters on 25 June 1998. Progress towards ratification of the convention is closely aligned with work at EU level. To date, the European Union has adopted two directives as part of the ratification process for the convention. These deal with public access to environmental information, 2003/4/EC, and public participation in certain environmental decision-making procedures, 2003/35/EC. Ratification of the convention will take place after these directives have been transposed into Irish law.

Work is continuing in my Department with regard to the transposition of the two directives and will be completed as soon as possible. While it is not planned to hold a formal public consultation process in regard to this process, my Department remains open to submissions from any interested parties or groups. When the above work on transposition is completed, the instrument of ratification of the Aarhus Convention will be submitted to Government and laid before [1022] the Dáil in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution.

My Department has not been in contact with State agencies generally about the transposition of Directive 2003/04/EC on public access to environmental information. In an informal communication with the Environmental Protection Agency, my Department drew attention to the distinction between EU regulations which have immediate effect and EU directives which require transposition.