- 17 Jun 2019
Date received: 19 May 2019
Date responded: 17 Jun 2019
You asked for ‘all email communications between Scottish Government officials (now clarified as staff from Energy & Climate Change Directorate) and the Committee on Climate Change between 1 February 2019 and 11 May 2019’.
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.
Whilst our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exception under regulation 10(4)(e) internal communications in relation to general policy and decision-making applies to that information. The reasons why these exception apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.
We have also applied exceptions under regulation 10(5)(e) – substantial prejudice to confidentiality of commercial or industrial information and regulation 11(2) – Personal data of a third party which allows us to redact the names and telephone numbers of most staff members and also names, addresses and telephone numbers of the general public who have submitted emails.
Regulation 10(4)(e) – internal communications [in relation to general policy and decision-making]
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 some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on policy relating to climate change will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.
Regulation 10(5)(e) – substantial prejudice to confidentiality of commercial or industrial information
An exception under regulation 10(5)(e) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to confidentiality of commercial information) applies to some of 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 the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), including in relation to tenders made to the CCC by third parties. Disclosing this information would be likely to give the competitors of these third parties an advantage in future similar tendering exercises, which would substantially prejudice their ability to submit competitive tenders and so could significantly harm their commercial business.
Regulation 11(2) – applicant has asked for personal data of a third party
An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exception is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception.
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