Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity’s briefing and speaking notes (19 January): EIR review

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

Information requested

...the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity’s briefing and speaking notes for the Ministerial Statement given in the Scottish Parliament chamber on 19 January 2023.


I have been asked to look at your request afresh, to decide whether the original response should be confirmed, with or without modifications, as appropriate, or that a fresh decision should be substituted. I can confirm that I was not involved in the handling or decision-making around the original response. I have reviewed the process undertaken in the handling of your original request, including the searches undertaken for relevant information, the identification of information within scope of your request and the consideration of the application of relevant exceptions under EIRs, including the application of the public interest test where relevant, and have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed with modifications set out below.

Regulation 6(1)(b)

This exception relates to information that is already publicly available and easily accessible. The Minister's statement to parliament is already publicly available at the Scottish Parliament website on the link provided to you in the original response. I am, therefore, satisfied that the exception was correctly applied to that information, however, for completeness I have included a copy of the speaking note as part of the briefing document at Annex A to this letter.

Regulation 10(4)(e)

I have conducted a review of the information previously withheld under regulation 10(4) (e) (internal communications). I am satisfied that all of the information withheld would fall within the definition of internal communications set out in the EIRs. However, I am not satisfied that there is a greater public interest in withholding the information than there is in disclosing the information in all circumstances.

I therefore attached a copy of most of the information requested at Annex A to this letter.

I have determined that in relation to some of the information previously withheld, the public interest in disclosure would not outweigh the public interest in withholding the information. Where this is the case this information has been marked as [Redacted - Regulation 10(4)(e)].

With regard to the information still withheld under this exception, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. I recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide free and frank advice and views to Ministers in briefings. It is in the public interest that Ministers can properly and robustly set out the Government’s policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. Disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.

In addition some of the information you requested has been redacted under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names/contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exception is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. Where this is the case this information has been marked as [redacted – regulation 11(2)].

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 - 2023000347055 - Annex A


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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