Publication - FOI/EIR release

First Minister meeting with Jim Ratcliffe (INEOS): EIR release

Published: 1 Jul 2018

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

Published:
1 Jul 2018
First Minister meeting with Jim Ratcliffe (INEOS): EIR release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01331
Date received: 23 April 2018
Date responded: 27 June 2018

Information requested

1. Any information held on the First Minister's meeting with Jim Ratcliffe regarding future unconventional oil and gas (UOG) policy;

2. Any meetings which Ministers and civil servants had ahead of and after that meeting to discuss UOG development in Scotland;

3. Any analyses which the Scottish Government carried out, in advance of the introduction of the ban on UOG of the scientific and public health impact reports which it commissioned ahead of the public consultation exercise carried out in 2017;

4. The basis on which the Scottish Government concluded that it was necessary to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (including what pre-screening information the Scottish Government took into account when it concluded that such an assessment was required, what policy options were considered, and why the decision to undertake a SEA was taken after the public consultation exercise was completed in circumstances where the option of including a ban was not specifically put forward for consideration);

5. Any steps which have been taken to undertake a SEA as of 18 April 2018.

Response

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.

Attached is a copy of the information requested for question no. 1.

This material was released previously in response to a FoI request, and as such is considered to be in the public domain. You will note that this document is dated 28 January 2014; however, I can confirm that this is a typographical error, and the date should read 28 January 2015.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not hold the information you have requested for question no. 2. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exception applies are explained in below.

Also attached is a copy of the information you requested for question no. 3.

In relation to the information requested in question 4, I am able to confirm that the Scottish Government has considered its obligations regarding the development of the Strategic Environmental Assessment under the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005.

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 an exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below.

Regarding your reference to pre-screening, you may be aware that Section 7 of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 relates to the potential requirement to undertake pre-screening prior to the commencement of a SEA. The Scottish Government does not consider Section 7 applicable in this specific case; as a result, no pre-screening was undertaken. The relevant legislation can be found at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2005/15/section/7

With regard to question no. 5, the Scottish Government acknowledges that a clear process must be followed before a final policy position on unconventional oil and gas can be reached. This process includes undertaking the relevant statutory assessments on our preferred position, including a SEA. The SEA is currently underway and will be completed before any policy is adopted.

I can confirm that independent environmental consultants Land Use Consultants (LUC) are undertaking the SEA on unconventional oil and gas in Scotland. The SEA scoping report, as required under Section 15 of the 2005 Act, was issued to the relevant consultation authorities on 26 March 2018. The consultation on the SEA Environmental Report, as required under Section 16 of the 2005 Act, will be carried out in the coming months.

Reasons for not providing information

Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have.

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. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about meetings which Ministers and civil servants had ahead of and after that meeting to discuss UOG development in Scotland, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

An exception applies.

An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs applies to some of the information you have requested. This regulation applies because some of the material you have requested is legal advice, and as a result cannot be released.

An exception under regulation 11.2 of the EIRs applies to some of the information you have requested. This regulation applies because some of the material you have requested contains the personal data of third parties, and as a result cannot be released.

These exceptions 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding 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

F0I1801331 Release 1.pdf

3 page PDF
138.9 kB

FOI1801331 Release 2.pdf

4 page PDF
250.1 kB

FOI1801331 Release 3.pdf

9 page PDF
292.6 kB

FOI1801331 Release 4.pdf

6 page PDF
271.0 kB

FOI1801331 Release 5.pdf

4 page PDF
320.6 kB

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