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EU Ombudsman Seeks Views On Transparency of EU Decision-Making on the Environment

9th November 2022
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European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly is seeking the public’s view on how transparent EU decision-making is in relation to the environment.

The public consultation, which closes in just over a month’s time, relates to decisions involving both the marine and terrestrial environment.

The consultation’s aim is to evaluate whether citizens have access to the up-to-date information they need to exercise “democratic scrutiny” when it comes to EU rules for protecting the environment and combatting climate change.

“Past Ombudsman inquiries have found instances in which environmental information was made public either too late or not at all, effectively removing people’s right to participate in decision-making related to the environment,”the European Ombudsman’s office says.

“The Ombudsman has decided to prioritise scrutiny of this area as the EU - in the face of unprecedented environmental challenges - has agreed a series of laws aimed at protecting the environment and combatting climate change,” it says.

“The laws and proposals range from binding emission targets, to funding programmes for sustainable technologies, to biodiversity strategies and reduction in the use of chemical pesticides,”it says.

The EU Aarhus regulation obliges EU institutions to set up public databases for “ proactive and systemic” dissemination of certain environmental information.

As one of a series of questions drawn up as part of the consultation, participants are asked to identify what EU institutions should do to make these databases as comprehensive and user-friendly as possible?

The 11 questions relating to transparency and participation seek to “find out how easy it is for the public to obtain documents or information related to the environment”.

They are also designed to determine “how citizens could be more involved in the preparation and implementation of green policies”.

The public consultation is available in all 24 EU languages, and runs until December 15th. More details are here

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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