Access to information about the environment and its protection
It is worth knowing that the regulation of art. 8 of the Act of 3rd of October 2008 on access to information about the environment and its protection, public participation in environmental protection and environmental impact assessments (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 2081, as amended) allows anyone to obtain information about the environment and its protection, which information is in the hands of public authorities or is information intended for public authorities.
The provision of information takes place after the interested party submits a written request to the competent authority. It does not require submitting an application to obtain information that does not require search.
Importantly, an entity submitting an application for access to environmental information does not need to demonstrate a legal or factual interest in obtaining such information.
A detailed list of information that is subject to disclosure in this mode is provided in art. 9 of the Act and those are, among others:
- information on the status of environmental elements such as: air, water, land surface, mineral, climate, landscape and natural areas, including swamps, coastal and marine areas, as well as plants, animals and fungi, and other elements of biodiversity, including genetically modified organisms, and the interactions between these elements;
- information on emissions, including radioactive waste, as well as pollutants that affect or may affect elements of the environment;
- information on measures such as, inter alia: administrative measures, policies, legal provisions relating to the environment and water management, plans, programs and agreements on environmental protection;
- information on reports on the implementation of environmental legislation.
The above mentioned information about the environment, the competent authority makes available in the verbal, written, visual, audio, electronic or other form.
The requested information about the environment and its protection should be made available by the authority not later than within one month from the date of receipt of the application. In some cases, however, the deadline may be extended to two months.
The provisions of the Act also enumerate cases in which the authority may refuse to disclose to the interested entity information about the environment and its protection (Article 16 (1) and (2) of the above-mentioned Act). If the circumstances described in the Act occur, the authority refuses to provide information about the environment and its protection by means of a decision.