Publication - FOI/EIR release

A96 Dualling East of Huntly to Aberdeen Scheme: EIR release

Published: 8 Sep 2020

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

Published:
8 Sep 2020
A96 Dualling East of Huntly to Aberdeen Scheme: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000062988
Date received: 17 Jul 2020
Date responded: 14 Aug 2020
Information requested

“I would ask for sight of all flood risk assessments and modelling, and copies of all correspondence, minutes of meetings and email correspondence between Transport Scotland and the other stakeholders ie SEPA, Aberdeenshire Council and Amey Arup relating to your DMRB Stage 2 assessments for crossing the River Don flood plain at Kintore. In particular I request sight of your risk assessments, flood modelling and proposed mitigation for the following:

  • The impact of more recent development within the catchment area and potential future developments, in respect of suds water runoff and the time it takes to get into the water course.
  • The likely impact of "snow melt" (this was not included in the flood modelling created by JBA Consulting and flooding from snow melt can be considerable in this area).
  • With regard to recent local changes in channel geometry, and to make the Hydraulic modelling more applicable / meaningful I assume that the geometry has been re-surveyed by Transport Scotland as there have been changes to this, especially north east of Inverurie. I therefore require sight of the updated channel geometry survey results.
  • The hydraulic modelling should take in to account the runoff from the new dual carriageway and include the proposed footprint of the "new" bridge. The modelling done should cover the extent of the whole catchment area not just sections, and look at the consequences of the restrictions along the course of the rivers and the impact it will have upstream, along with the other points mentioned. I therefore also require sight of all flood modelling and risk assessments relating to this. I fully expect that Transport Scotland have indeed applied best practice and due diligence by performing this further Hydraulic modelling to capture more up to date information and, taking into account the points above, validating it against the January 2016 and October 2014 flood events and November 2002 and October 2009 events, hence my request for your assurance that this has been carried out and sight of the results of that further hydraulic modelling.
  • Finally I also request sight of the design and plans for the proposed bridge across the River Don Flood Plain at Kintore which I assume are now available.
Response

As all of 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.

Your request
“I would ask for sight of all flood risk assessments and modelling… relating to your DMRB Stage 2 assessments for crossing the River Don flood plain at Kintore.”
“The hydraulic modelling should take in to account the runoff from the new dual carriageway and include the proposed footprint of the "new" bridge. The modelling done should cover the extent of the whole catchment area not just sections, and look at the consequences of the restrictions along the course of the rivers and the impact it will have upstream, along with the other points mentioned. I therefore also require sight of all flood modelling and risk assessments relating to this. I fully expect that Transport Scotland have indeed applied best practice and due diligence by performing this further Hydraulic modelling to capture more up to date information and, taking into account the points above, validating it against the January 2016 and October 2014 flood events and November 2002 and October 2009 events, hence my request for your assurance that this has been carried out and sight of the results of that further hydraulic modelling.”

Response to your request
The impact and flood risk assessment which has been undertaken to determine any potential increase in flood risk to the floodplain at Inverurie / Port Elphinstone and Kintore areas is ongoing, therefore an exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to the information you have requested because it is material which is still in the course of completion.

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 this will be met by the release of the DMRB Stage 2 Scheme Assessment Report later this year. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that unfinished or incomplete information which is still being worked on is not disclosed when it might misinform the public.
Further information
The Aberdeenshire Council Rivers Don/Urie model developed for the Inverurie Flood Protection Scheme (FPS) is being used as a baseline model by AmeyArup. It is recognised that the scheme traverses areas which are known to experience flooding and are identified by SEPA as being subject to flood risk. A key element of the design and assessment of each option is to ensure that existing flooding patterns are not made worse by the scheme. Following the identification of a preferred option, the model provided by Aberdeenshire Council will be refined during DMRB Stage 3 to assist in the detailed assessment and design of the preferred option.

Your request
“I would ask for sight of…copies of all correspondence, minutes of meetings and email correspondence between Transport Scotland and the other stakeholders ie SEPA, Aberdeenshire Council and Amey Arup relating to your DMRB Stage 2 assessments for crossing the River Don flood plain at Kintore.”
Response to your request
Your request for… “copies of all correspondence, minutes of meetings and email correspondence between Transport Scotland and the other stakeholders i.e. SEPA, Aberdeenshire Council and Amey Arup relating to your DMRB Stage 2 assessments for crossing the River Don flood plain at Kintore”, is partially already publically available as issued under FoI – F0191159 by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and under FoI 19/02352 by the Scottish Government.
FoI – F0191159 covered all correspondence between SEPA and Transport Scotland, their contractors and subcontractors from January 1st 2017 to October 2019. The information can be accessed via SEPA’s online disclosure log at this location:
http://apps.sepa.org.uk/disclosurelog/#
In the search box please enter the reference F0191159 which will display their response and corresponding documentation.

Please refer to Annex A for a copy of extracted correspondence between Transport Scotland and SEPA relating to the DMRB Stage 2 assessments for crossing the River Don floodplain at Kintore, from October 2019 to 16 July 2020.
FoI 19/02352 covered all communications between Transport Scotland, their contractors and subcontractors and Aberdeenshire Council from August 2018 to October 2019 relating to the Orange, Violet and Online options of the proposed new A96. The information can be accessed via the Scottish Government’s online publications website at this location:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/
In the search box please enter the reference FOI/EIR 02352 which will display their response and corresponding documentation.

I can advise that there is no additional correspondence between Transport Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council, relating to the DMRB Stage 2 assessments for crossing the River Don floodplain at Kintore, prior to August 2018 and between October 2019 and 16 July 2020.
Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format.

Your request
“In particular I request sight of your risk assessments, flood modelling and proposed mitigation for the following:

  • The impact of more recent development within the catchment area and potential future developments, in respect of suds water runoff and the time it takes to get into the water course.
  • The likely impact of "snow melt" (this was not included in the flood modelling created by JBA Consulting and flooding from snow melt can be considerable in this area).
  • With regard to recent local changes in channel geometry, and to make the Hydraulic modelling more applicable / meaningful I assume that the geometry has been re-surveyed by Transport Scotland as there have been changes to this, especially north east of Inverurie. I therefore require sight of the updated channel geometry survey results.”

Response to your request
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested in this part of your request. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

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. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in the requested information, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

Further information
Any developments or proposed developments within the area of Inverurie and surrounding area must adhere to current Aberdeenshire Council guidance, where surface water run off should be attenuated to a rate agreed with the Council as the Planning Authority. The impact and flood risk assessment in connection with the A96 Dualling East of Huntly to Aberdeen scheme will therefore assume the effect of the third-party developments have been mitigated as necessary.
At this juncture of the A96 Dualling East of Huntly to Aberdeen Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) Stage 2 route options assessment, while not associated to flood alleviation features, it may help to explain that Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) will be developed on this project to collect water from the new roads system.
SuDS are designed, constructed and maintained to be more sustainable than conventional drainage methods as they mitigate many of the adverse effects of storm water run-off on the environment by:

  • Controlling the discharge rate to the receiving watercourse;
  • Reducing pollutant concentrations in storm water; and
  • Acting as a buffer for accidental spills by preventing direct discharge of high concentrations of contaminants to the natural water course.

In respect of snow melt, the Aberdeenshire Council Rivers Don/Urie model developed for the Inverurie Flood Protection Scheme (FPS) is being used as a baseline model by AmeyArup. Snow melt is included in the gauged river flow data, as well as the historic flood data used to calibrate the model.

It is recognised that the scheme traverses areas which are known to experience flooding and are identified by SEPA as being subject to flood risk. A key element of the design and assessment of each option is to ensure that existing flooding patterns are not made worse by the scheme. Following the identification of a preferred option, the model provided by Aberdeenshire Council will be refined during DMRB Stage 3 to assist in the detailed assessment and design of the preferred option. This will include undertaking further surveys of relevant watercourses if necessary.

Any potential flood alleviation features or mitigation required will be developed during the DMRB Stage 3 Assessment

Your request
“I would ask for sight of all flood risk assessments and modelling … Finally I also request sight of the design and plans for the proposed bridge across the River Don Flood Plain at Kintore which I assume are now available.”

Response to your request
Your request for sight of the design and plans for the proposed bridge across the River Don Flood Plain at Kintore is already publically available as issued to you under FoI – F0202000018357. I can confirm that there has been no further changes to this information.
Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format.

About FOI

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.

Contact

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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG