Coordination centre for environmental information
The amended Environmental Information Act
The new EU Directive on public access to environmental information, which transposes part of the Aarhus Convention (public access to information) into European law, provides for an expansion of public access to environmental information.
With the 2005 amendment to the Environmental Information Act, Austria has transposed the EU Directive into national law. The aim is in particular to provide public access to environmental information for Austrian citizens.
The new features include a broader definition of the rights of access to information, the expansion of public authorities which are under the obligation to provide information, shorter deadlines for public authorities to supply information and the obligation to disseminate environmental information actively to the public. Such information concerns the state of environmental components such as air, water and soil, as well as environmental factors such as materials, energy, noise, radiation or waste, and measures of administration, either adopted or still at their planning stage, that may have an impact on environmental components and environmental factors etc.
The right of access to environmental information reaches its limits where the protection of personal data according to federal constitutional law is concerned, as well as of business and company secrets. The environmental data catalogue according to § 10 of the Environmental Information Act, a meta-information system for environmental data, will be replaced by direct access routes that are regularly improved.