- 12 Feb 2018
FOI reference: FOI/17/02971
Date received: 17 January 2018
Date responded: 9 February 2018
Details of (a) meetings between the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council, and (b) all communication between the Scottish Government, including ministers, special advisers and officials, and the Leader of Glasgow City Council or the Leader's Office, regarding building regulation, ACM cladding, fire safety, properties in the Glasgow Harbour development, and on resource/assistance in relation to cladding.
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.
Regarding part (a) of your request, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, under the exemption at regulation 10(4)(b) of the EIRs a public authority may refuse a request for information if it is 'manifestly unreasonable'. The reasons why that exemption applies are explained below.
Regarding part (b) of your request, I enclose a copy of the information you requested in the form of a pdf document. An exception under regulation 10(5)(g) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to protection of the environment) applies to some of the information you have requested in the form of an address. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the protection of the environment to which the information relates.
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 a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the environment to which the information relates because there is no public interest in putting the buildings and residents at risk.
For your information, we have already published information released under previous freedom of information requests that you may find helpful. For ease I attach links to the relevant requests:
Reasons for not providing information
Response when request is 'manifestly unreasonable' on cost grounds.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, under the exception at regulation 10(4)(b) of the EIRs a public authority may refuse a request for information if it is 'manifestly unreasonable'. The Scottish Information Commissioner's guidance on the regulation 10(4)(b) exception at: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/Law/EIRs/EIRsExceptions.aspx says that there may "be instances where it is appropriate for the Commissioner to consider the proportionality of the burden on the public authority in terms of the costs and resources involved in dealing with a request when considering the application of this exception".
In this case, the costs and resources involved in complying with part (a) of your request would be disproportionate because, to find the information requested, we would need to conduct a search of all of the records of the Scottish Government. It may help if I explain that we file our information according to the subject matter, not by reference to Glasgow City Council. Because of the volume of records which would need to be searched, a 20 working days extension to the response deadline (under regulation 7 of the EIRs) would still not make the request manageable. For these reasons, we consider that your request is manifestly unreasonable and so we are refusing it under regulation 10(4)(b).
As the exception is conditional we have applied the 'public interest test'. This means we have, in all the circumstances of this case, considered if the public interest in disclosing 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. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about meetings between the Scottish government and Glasgow City council, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring the efficient and effective use of public resources by not incurring excessive costs when complying with information requests.
You may however wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order to make it manageable. For example, you could specify the subject matter(s) of the meetings you are interested in or restrict your request to a specific business area of the Scottish Government, as this would allow us to limit the searches that would require to be conducted. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on her website at:
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 Andrew's House