Scotland's offshore wind potential: EIR review

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


Information requested

I am writing to appeal this freedom of information request. It's clear that the Scottish Government are not disclosing all relevant material. In particular this relates to part 2 of my original request: Details of any correspondence relating to her decision to drop out from the event on the 6th.

At 11.41 on 05 April, civil servants are still looking to confirm details of what Nicola Sturgeon is doing at the event the following evening. By 15.27 that day, a briefing is being sent to Mairi McAllan to takeover the event.

It's not realistic to ask anyone to believe that no one on either the ministerial or civil service side had any conversations about this. Likewise one would assume that this information was communicated to the event organisers.

I am now asking for this further correspondence to be disclosed.

I also believe that the application of the public interest test has been misapplied in terms of the content of the minister's briefing provided at the end of the tranche of documents and would like this to be reviewed.

Response

In undertaking this Review, I have reconsidered all of the information previously withheld, the actions taken to identify the information falling within scope of your request and the reasons why we considered information exempt from disclosure, including the consideration of the public interest where appropriate.

In doing so I have determined that a different decision should be substituted. This is because the information you have requested is environmental in nature and therefore would fall to be answered under the Environmental Information (Scotland) regulations.

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.

I have enclosed a copy of some of the information you have requested.

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 regulations 10(4)(e) (internal communications) and 11(2) (personal data) of the EIRs applies to that information.

An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is internal communication between Officials about lines to take in the context of planned attendance at the above noted event. 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 to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on international climate change policy while it is still under discussion and development.

An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party 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 exception.

 

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.

FOI - 202300356869 - Information release

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

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