Source: Right to Know Newsletter
This was a joint venture between the ESB and Coillte to develop a wind farm in Co Wicklow though the ownership structure has since changed.
The case centres on whether Raheenleagh DAC is a “public authority” for the purposes of the Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) Regulations.
In the original decision, the Commissioner for Environmental Information decided it was not and so did not have to deal with our request for records.
RTK appealed that to the High Court and in his decision, Justice Alexander Owens ruled in their favour, saying it was a public authority.
However, that was not the end of the matter and the case was back before the Court of Appeal mid-January with ESB still disputing that Raheenleagh DAC was a “public authority”.
Gavin Sheridan runs through some of the background to the case in this Twitter thread.
The case largely boils down to the definition of “public authority” and whether Raheenleagh DAC meets the criteria as set out in the Regulations.
It has wider implications of course with these types of joint ventures and designated activity companies becoming increasingly common with local authorities and commercial semi-states.
It raises significant questions over the reach of AIE, and indeed FOI, if public bodies can simply set up a spinoff operation and put them beyond the reach of information access laws.