Publication - FOI/EIR release

Plans to impose parking charges at Sumburgh Airport: FOI release

Published: 9 May 2018

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
9 May 2018
Plans to impose parking charges at Sumburgh Airport: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/00975
Date received: 22 March 2018
Date responded: 1 May 2018

Information requested

All information held on plans to impose parking charges at Sumburgh Airport including all correspondence with Highlands and Islands Airports Limited including the proposal to impose car parking charges at Sumburgh Airport. You also requested details of any complaints, correspondence with stakeholders (including the Sumburgh Airport Consultative Committee), e-mails and other information relating to plans to impose parking charges at Sumburgh Airport.

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you 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 exemptions under sections 38(1)(b), 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA apply to the information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below. Any information outwith the scope of your request has also been redacted.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details of individuals, and disclosing this would contravene the data protection principles on Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption 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.

Exemptions apply, subject to the public interest test.

Exemptions under section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) and 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) apply to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. These exemptions recognise the need for officials to have a private space within which to both provide free and frank advice to Ministers and the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice and discussions on the introduction of car parking charges at Sumburgh Airport will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice and the ability to have such discussions in the future.

These exemptions are 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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. We 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 full and frank advice to Ministers and for full and frank exchanges of views between Ministers and officials to take place as part of the process of exploring and refining Government's policy position on the introduction of car parking charges at Sumburgh Airport. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of these discussions with Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) on the introduction of car parking charges at Sumburgh Airport will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing and decisions have not been taken.

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. We 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 Ministers and officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on the introduction of car parking charges at Sumburgh Airport, until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by HIAL. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

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

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG