Publication - FOI/EIR release

M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project: EIR release

Published: 7 Feb 2020

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

Published:
7 Feb 2020
M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/20/00007
Date received: 6 Jan 2020
Date responded: 3 Feb 2020
Information requested

On 14 February 2017 Keith Brown then Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work said of the work on the M8 “Road users can expect to shave approximately 20 minutes of their journeys along the A8/M8 corridor between Glasgow and Edinburgh and approximately”
https://www.transport.gov.scot/news/cabinet-secretary-announces-new-raith-junction-to-open/
Has this objective been met, and if so, specifically how has that been measured and verified ?

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.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance Transport Scotland does not have the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exception applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.
It may be helpful to explain that the journey time saving to which you refer above was not an objective of the project set by Transport Scotland. The improvements to journey times are a benefit of the project and these were projected from modelling of the traffic flows with and without the project during the development of the project.
Given the subject of your request it may also be helpful to refer you to journey time information that was released under FOI 2017/02762. This information relates to 2012, prior to construction of the project, and 2017, after the new motorway improvements were fully opened to traffic. Please see the link below:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-17-02762/
To further assist, you may wish to know that Transport Scotland is undertaking an evaluation of the project, in line with Scottish Trunk Road Infrastructure Project Evaluation (STRIPE) Guidance, against both its objectives and wider evaluation criteria. The evaluation will assess the impact of the project by comparing conditions after opening with forecasts made during scheme design and development.

The main areas being evaluated include: scheme objectives; operation; environment; safety; economy; integration; accessibility and social inclusion; and cost to government. The section of the project between Baillieston and Newhouse will be evaluated against the following transport planning objectives:

  • to protect the built and natural environment, especially the environment of people, in particular:
    - to reduce the adverse impact of transport on people, and this includes the protection of existing populations in all communities from the intrusive effects of traffic.
  • to improve safety, in particular:
    - to reduce conflicts between vehicles and between vehicles and other road users in the A8 corridor.
  • to support sustainable economic activity and get good value for money, in particular:
    - to reduce delay and travel time reliability for all traffic, including goods vehicles and buses, in the A8 corridor.
  •  to improve access to facilities for those without a car and to reduce severance, in particular:
    - to provide adequate access to jobs.
    - to provide adequate accessibility for freight deliveries.
    - to provide appropriate access to the trunk roads that is consistent with the role of the trunk roads.
  • to ensure that all decisions are taken in the context of the executive’s integrated transport policy, in particular:
    - to improve substantially the integration of the elements of the transport system.

An exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to the evaluation because it is material which is still in the course of completion. As explained above, the evaluation of the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project is currently being progressed. Transport Scotland currently anticipates completing this work later this year, at which point an evaluation report will be published.
Further information on Project Evaluation is available on the Transport Scotland website via the following link: http//www.transportscotland.gov.uk/road/project-evaluation
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 our planned publication later this year. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that unfinished or incomplete information which is still in being worked on is not disclosed when it might misinform the public on the matter to which the information relates.

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