- 25 Feb 2020
Date received: 22 Aug 2018
Date responded: 26 Oct 2018
Details of all meetings Scottish Government Ministers and officials have attended with Marine Biopolymers Ltd, or their representatives, regarding proposals for Wild Seaweed Harvesting, including date, venue, attendees and meeting minutes and also provide copies of all correspondence between the Scottish Government and Marine Biopolymers Ltd in the last five years.
As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.
This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.
I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.
A few pieces of information are not provided as an exception applies under regulation 10(5)(e) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to confidentiality of commercial information). This applies to some Commercially Confidential documents relating to the information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the confidentiality of commercial information provided by Marine Biopolymers Limited and thus cause substantial harm to their commercial interests. Disclosure would reveal to competitors confidential details of their proposed initiative and might lead to the loss of substantial investment by causing the identification of key investors who do not wish to be identified at this stage.
This exception is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of highly innovative companies who have provided us confidential details of their operational practices and investment opportunities.
Under regulation 6 (1) (b), we have also withheld some correspondence with MBL relating to the Marine Licencing process as the information is already available and easily accessible on the Marine Scotland website.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House