Publication - FOI/EIR release

Possible bridge between Scotland and Ireland correspondence: EIR release

Published: 5 Mar 2020

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Published:
5 Mar 2020
Possible bridge between Scotland and Ireland correspondence: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/20/00061
Date received: 15 Jan 2020
Date responded: 28 Feb 2020
Information requested

All correspondence, and any documents from between 1 January 2019 and 15 January 2020 relating to a possible bridge between Scotland and Ireland.

Response

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.

In response to your request I enclose a copy of some of the information held by Transport Scotland.
Annex A – Email from Cowal Fixed Link Working Group regarding Scotland NI Link to requesting a meeting – 9 January 2019
Annex B – Response letter by Michael Matheson regarding Scotland to NI Link – 29 January 2019
Annex C – Letter from member of the public regarding Irish Sea Road/Rail Bridge – 21 January 2019
Annex D – Response by Transport Scotland to member of the public regarding Irish Sea Road/Rail Bridge – 12 February 2019
Annex E – Email from Michael Russell MSP on behalf of Cowal Fixed Link Working Group which contains information about Scotland to NI Fixed Link with attached proposals by Cowal Fixed Link Working Group – 8 February 2019
(i) Attachment – Cowal Fixed Link Proposal [Redacted – Out of Scope]
(ii) Attachment – Copy of Response sent on 29 January 2019
Annex F – Response to Cowal Fixed Link Working Group containing information about Scotland NI Link to requesting a meeting – 12 March 2019
Annex G – Letter from member of the public regarding Proposed Tunnel Between Scotland and Northern Ireland, reference made to Bridge in the body of the correspondence – 17 July 2019
(i) – Attachment – Proposals from member of public for Celtic Connections Rail Tunnel and Tunnel/Bridge hybrid concepts
Annex H – Response to member of the public regarding Irish Sea Rail Tunnel, reference made to Bridge in the body of the correspondence – 5 August 2019
Annex I – Press Enquiry - Scotland to Northern Ireland Bridge Questions surrounding Channel 4 News article – 10 September 2019
Annex J – Request received by Department for Transport asking if Transport Scotland can deal with FoI – Relating to the building of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland – 11 September 2019
Annex K – FMQ Briefing – Scotland to Northern Ireland Bridge – 17 September 2019
Annex L – FMQ Briefing – Scotland to Northern Ireland Bridge – 26 September 2019 (Note briefing issued as Annex K)
Annex M – Letter from Ards and North Down Borough Council to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon – 26 September 2019
Annex N – Email correspondence between Transport Scotland and Department for Transport officials – 14 October 2019
Annex O – Response to Ards and North Down Borough Council – 23 October 2019
Annex P – Letter from member of the public regarding a potential Scotland to Northern Ireland bridge – 22 October 2019
Annex Q – Response from Transport Scotland officials to member of the public regarding a potential Scotland to Northern Ireland bridge – 18 November 2019
Annex R – Press Enquiry from Rail Magazine on various transport issues including the potential of a bridge being built from Portpatrick to Northern Ireland Council – 23 October 2019
Annex S – Press Enquiry from Australian Broadcasting Corporation on a Scotland to Northern Ireland bridge – 24 October 2019
Annex T – Press Enquiry from Daily Mail regarding the idea of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland – 27 December 2019
Annex U – Internal Scottish Government email surrounding the allocation of correspondence relating to Scotland to Northern Ireland bridge – 7 January 2020
(i) – Attachment – Correspondence from member of public regarding Scotland to Northern Ireland bridge
Annex V – Press Enquiry from Architect’s Journal regarding Celtic Crossing Proposals – 9 January 2020

Documents not provided
(i) - Advice to Cabinet Secretary – 29 January 2019 - Exception under Regulation 10(4)(e) Internal Communications.
(ii) - FMQ Brief Requests – 17 September 2019 - Exception under Regulation 10(4)(e) Internal Communications.
(iii) – Internal emails clearing of response to correspondence - 14 January 2020 - Exception under Regulation 10(4)(e) Internal Communications
(iv) Draft of correspondence response - 14 January 2020 - Exception under Regulation 10(4)(d) Material in course of completion

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
An exception applies
Exception under Regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs applies to one piece of information you have requested. Material in the course of completion, this exception covers material which is still in the course of completion, unfinished documents and incomplete data. In this case an internal draft of correspondence not finalised for public consumption.

Exception under Regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs applies to some the information you have requested. Regulation 10(4)(e) of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (the EIRs) allows a Scottish public authority to withhold internal communications. In this case the information withheld relates to internal clearance processes for correspondence within the Scottish Government which should not be disclosed.

Exception under Regulation 11(1) of the EIRs applies to some the information you have requested. Personal Information disclosure would contravene Article 21 of the GDPR and, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in making the information available is outweighed by the public interest in not making the information available.
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. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that unfinished or incomplete information is not disclosed when it might give a misleading impression of the Government’s view on the matter to which the information relates. The finalised draft report has also now been released, therefore the previous drafts are no longer required.

About FOI

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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