Commercial ferry services between the Scottish mainland and Orkney: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/18/03119  
Date received: 25 October 2018
Date responded: 22 November 2018
Information requested
1. Please confirm whether or not Transport Scotland has, in preparing for its procurement and the issuing of its contract notice, undertaken an analysis of whether there is market failure in the provision of commercial ferry services between the Scottish mainland and Orkney?

2. If the response to question 1 is “yes”, please provide a copy of any papers comprising or setting out that analysis.
1. I can confirm that Transport Scotland has undertaken analysis and found that there is market failure in the provision of commercial ferry services between the Scottish mainland and Orkney.

2. The analysis is set out in the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) report Peter Brett Associates 2018, published on Transport Scotland’s website:
In considering your request, I attach copies of the pre-appraisal reports, prepared by the consultants responsible for undertaking the STAG appraisal. These reports set out the analysis undertaken which informed our consideration of market failure between the Scottish mainland and Orkney.

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 33(1)(b) and Section 38(1)(a).
Sections 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information you have requested, where disclosure would be likely to prejudice substantially the commercial interests of ferry operators.

Personal data relating to third parties has also been redacted under 38(1)(b) of FOISA. This exemption applies because the information is the personal data of third parties and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998.

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. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of ferry operators, particularly given the on-going procurement process for the Northern Isles ferry services.
Due to the size of the files we are unable to upload the documents referred to above.
If you wish to consider, please contact us at the address below and we will be happy to provide.
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