Publication - FOI/EIR release

Appointment letters of planning appeal reporters: EIR release

Published: 1 May 2018

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

Published:
1 May 2018
Appointment letters of planning appeal reporters: EIR release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01020
Date received: 2 April 2018
Date responded: 23 April 2018

Information requested

1. "True copies" of the appointment letter of Planning Appeal Reporters, and in particular that of Mr Scott Ferrier. For the avoidance of doubt, I require "true copies" of all letters of appointment for current Planning Appeal Reporters;

2. Confirmation of the Scottish Administration's aspirations on Onshore Wind Turbines. This point is based on the recent statements made by the First Minister to the Renewable Energy industry for additional onshore wind turbines. I accept that this particular point may be outwith the scope of FOISA 2002 and more in line with Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004;

3. "True copies" of the recent statement by the Environment Minister regarding the new ETSU-R-97 wind farm guidance, in which he endorsed the new guidelines.

Response

As previously indicated, 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 ofInformation (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.

We have now completed our search for the information requested and our response is detailed below:

1. "True copies" of the appointment letter of Planning Appeal Reporters, and in particular that of Mr Scott Ferrier. For the avoidance of doubt, I require "true copies" of all letters of appointment for current Planning Appeal Reporters;

Whilst our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information in respect of Point 1 of your request because an exception under regulation 10 (4)(b) (Request is manifestly unreasonable) applies to that information.

To explain, we have identified 6, 292 individual cases pertinent to letters of appointment for current planning appeal reporters. Given the volume of the information identified that potentially falls within the terms of your request we have concluded that the cost and time involved in locating, extracting, collating and reviewing of all the information would place too great a burden on the DPEA.

We do not believe it would be possible to provide all relevant information without a significant and unreasonable diversion of resources. However, if it may be of some assistance, I attach copies (at Annexes 1, 2 ,3 and 4 appended to this letter) of our standard Minutes of Appointments. These samples vary according to whether the appointed reporter is a 'salaried' employee or whether they are a member of our self-employed panel. I also attach for your convenience a list of our current reporters detailed at Annex 5 of this letter.

2. Confirmation of the Scottish Administration's aspirations on Onshore Wind Turbines. This point is based on the recent statements made by the First Minister to the Renewable Energy industry for additional onshore wind turbines. I accept that this particular point may be outwith the scope of FOISA 2002 and more in line with Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004;

In terms of your point no. 2, you don't precisely detail a specific document or documents however if it may be of some assistance I attach a copy of the recently published Onshore Wind Policy statement for your convenience :

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/12/2064

3. "true copies" of the recent statement by the Environment Minister regarding the new ETSU-R-97 wind farm guidance, in which he endorsed the new guidelines;

In terms of point 3, as you may already be aware document ETSU-R-97 has not been recently updated and the most recent good practice guidance issued in relation to this document was dated May 2013. This means that I am unable to provide you with information because we do not hold it. Therefore we are refusing your request under that exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held).

As the exception is conditional we are required to apply 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 Ministerial endorsement of updates to guidance, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

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