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Self-service photography

This page explains the self-service photography of documents
on decided case files at An Bord Pleanála.

General information

When viewing decided case files through our Public Access service, you can take digital photographs of most documents under certain conditions. However, with copyright, privacy and data protection laws, there are restrictions to what you can photograph and how you may use the photographs. It is important to note that any photographs taken must be for the sole purpose of inspection. No other use is permitted.

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What can be photographed?

A digital photograph can be taken of any document in a case file produced by An Bord Pleanála or submitted to us except for items which are covered by copyright restrictions.

What cannot be photographed?

Items which cannot be photographed include:

  • Any plans, drawings, sketches, photomontages of the proposed development.
  • Any maps including Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) maps.
  • Documents or information which are marked as copyright protected.

If an item cannot be photographed, you can obtain photocopies of items from our Public Access service. If you are not sure whether or not you can photograph an item on a file, please ask a staff member for advice.

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All individuals taking photographs through the self-service must follow the Copyright and Related Rights Act, as amended. You are responsible for the photographs you take.
You should note that before you can view a case file, you will be asked to complete and sign a declaration form. This form states that any photograph you take of documents on the case file are strictly for your own personal inspection and for no other use.
It is not permitted for any photograph taken of documents on files using this service to be copied, published, shared, uploaded, or made public by any means (this includes electronic means such as social media or internet). This restriction does not apply to the Board Order, Board Direction or Inspector’s Report.

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Data Protection

Some documents contained on our files contain personal details. You should note that under General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), you may take digital photographs of records with personal data. The photographs you take are for your personal inspection only of information obtained by An Bord Pleanála in the performance of its statutory functions and which has been archived in the public interest.
Any use outside of this reason will be a breach of GDPR and information obtained must not be copied, published, shared, uploaded, or made public by any means (this includes electronic means such as social media or internet) or used in an unauthorised manner. Information obtained must also be appropriately secured and stored. It must be disposed of appropriately when no longer required.

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What devices are allowed?

To take your digital photographs you can use:

  • Personal cameras
  • Mobile phones with camera capability
  • Laptops, palm computers or tablets with camera capability
  • Camcorders or digi cameras (which are in still photography mode only).

Devices are permitted as long as they do not disturb other members of the public or staff members in the area. Their use must also not pose a threat to the safety and security of the case files or the reception area.
So as not to disturb other members of the public and staff members, devices must be in ‘silent’ mode. The use of a flash facility on your camera or electronic device is not permitted. The use of tripods or scanning equipment is also not permitted.

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How to take photographs of documents

You will be asked to complete and sign a declaration form before you receive the case file you wish to view. If you wish to take photographs, ask permission from a staff member. The staff member will check that the case file is in a physical condition to allow digital photography. Under no circumstances will digital photography be allowed if a declaration form has not been completed and signed.
We regret that staff members cannot take photographs of documents for you. 
The case file will be delivered to you in the seating area of our reception area or in the Seán MacDiarmada room. To help preserve our case files they need to be handled correctly and carefully. We ask that you:

  • respect the order of documents in the file and that you do not remove any document from the treasury tag attaching documents to the file cover.
  • handle the file carefully.
  • do not lean on the file or do any action that could damage the file.
  • turn pages carefully to avoid damaging or creasing.
  • only remove documents from one pouch at a time so that documents are not mixed up and you replace items from pouches back in the correct pouch.
  • do not make marks, notes, or place post-its on the documents in the file.
  • mark your place in a file using the slips of paper or other identifiers provided.
  • do not eat or drink when viewing files.

Please inform a staff member immediately if there are any problems with the file, for example, a document has become torn and no longer attached to the treasury tag.
To get the best image of a page:

  • Keep the file on the table and have your camera or device over the centre of the page.
  • Try not to block the natural or artificial light. Remember flash photography is not permitted.
  • Have your camera in focus.
  • Some cameras have a special setting to take photographs of text so check if your camera has this setting. If not, zooming in or micro option might help produce a better image.
  • If you are not happy with the way a document is appearing in your photographs, you can ask our Public Access staff to make a photocopy. Charges apply for photocopying.

An Bord Pleanála accepts no responsibility for the quality of digital photographs taken by members of the public using this service. A photocopying service remains available for members of the public who wish to have paper copies.

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Availability and review of self-service photography of documents

We will keep under review the use of self-service photography. An Bord Pleanála may decide to restrict, suspend or withdraw the right to take photographs on certain or all items on any case file without advance notice.

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Further Information

The laws and regulations referred to in this document are:

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