Correspondence relating to Big Sand case and associated records: EIR release

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

Information requested

All correspondence, file notes and other records arising from the dealings of the office of the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Scottish Forestry in respect of my client’s, Mr Kenneth MacRitchie, woodland creation application for the 13 Big Sand croft, not for any other matter or person or organisation.

Furthermore, I seek records only in relation to the topic of my letter of 9 May, this being Mr MacRitchie’s eligibility for the Forestry Grant Scheme in light of his occupancy of the croft and any other aspect of its status.

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 we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exceptions under the EIRs apply to some of the information you have requested.

The two exceptions which apply are:

  • Regulation 11(2), third party personal data. With the exception of senior officers of the public bodies involved, personal information, for example relating to correspondents and subjects of the correspondence, has been withheld. Where this exception applies, the information has been redacted as noted.
  • Regulation 10(4)(e), internal communications. This exception has been applied to documents containing legal advice received by Scottish Forestry, which are subject to legal professional privilege. These documents are therefore not included in the release.

The reasons why these exceptions apply are explained in Annex A to this letter.

In addition, there are elements of some of the documents which fall outside the scope of your request. Where this is the case, these elements have been redacted and this has been noted.

Due to the volume of documents, these will be emailed to you separately.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

EIR - 202200299297 - Annex A


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top