The content of all documents, including emails, briefings and reports, regarding the decision to buy the Glenprosen estate in Angus. Please include any discussion of the pros and cons of the purchase, the cost and whether it was an effective use of public money.
I have uploaded the requested material to the following google drive website which can be accessed via the following link:
This material will remain on the website for the next 7 days and can be downloaded to your device or computer. If you have any issues with downloading the material please contact me at the above address and I will arrange for this to be sent to you in an alternative format.
Information not released
Please note that the material has been redacted to remove the names of third party persons and FLS staff in accordance with Data Protection legislation. I have applied an exemption under FOISA to some of the material requested on the following basis:
Section 33(1)(b) of FOISA – Commercial interests and the economy
The information contained in the requested material is exempt from disclosure in terms of section 33(1)(b) of FOISA.
Section 33(1)(b) of FOISA provides that information is exempt information if its disclosure under FOISA would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any person (including a Scottish public authority).
The exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA is a qualified exemption and is therefore subject to the public interest test in section 2(1)(b) of FOISA, which we will consider further below.
There are certain elements which FLS needs to demonstrate are present when relying on the exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA.
In particular, FLS needs to indicate:
- whose commercial interests would (or would be likely to) be harmed by disclosure;
- the nature of those commercial interests; and
- how those interests would (or would be likely to) be prejudiced substantially by disclosure.
The prejudice must be substantial, in other words of real and demonstrable significance.
"Commercial interests" for the purposes of FOISA include interests in relation to activities undertaken in a competitive environment, such as the purchase of property or land. In this instance the bid and how it was formulated by FLS for the Glenproven estate.
Some of the material requested demonstrates the processes in which FLS went out determining how much the bid should be and the potential for a longer term return on this investment. Such information is commercially sensitive, as it is specific to FLS, and it would substantially prejudice FLS’s ability to compete within the market in which it operates and give an unfair advantage in any future public sale of land/estates in which it participates. Further, FLS considers that it has its own commercial interests in ensuring that it can obtain value for money by undertaking competitive land purchases and sales.
Disclosure of the information requested by you would likely undermine the effectiveness of FLS's potential land purchases in the future. It is important to note that a disclosure under FOISA is deemed to be a disclosure to the "world at large" and not merely to the requester.
In applying the exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA to your request, FLS has considered the public interest test as required under section 2(1)(b) of FOISA and whether the public interest is better served by disclosing or withholding the information, all as required by section 2(1)(b).
In this regard, FLS acknowledges the general public interest that purchase price information is accessible in order to enhance scrutiny of decision-making processes, provide oversight of expenditure of public funds and the extent to which the public obtain value for money. However, FLS considers that there is a significantly greater public interest in ensuring fair competition in relation to land purchase activities through not allowing the market to become skewed or distorted.
Further, there is a very strong and inherent public interest in ensuring fairness of competition and it would be firmly against the public interest if FLS’s commercial interests are harmed simply because they have submitted a bid to purchase land.
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
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