- 2 Apr 2019
Date received: 21 Sep 2018
Date responded: 11 Feb 2019
You asked for the Scottish Government to supply copies of any correspondence since 2015 between Fergus Ewing, as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity or Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, and Marine Scotland and the Crown Estate relating to proposals for kelp harvesting.
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.
A few pieces of information are not provided as an exception applies under regulation 10(5)(e) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to confidentiality of commercial information). This applies to some Commercially Confidential documents relating to the information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the confidentiality of commercial information provided by Marine Biopolymers Limited and thus cause substantial harm to their commercial interests. Disclosure would reveal to competitors confidential details of their proposed initiative and might lead to the loss of substantial investment by causing the identification of key investors who do not wish to be identified at this stage.
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.
A few pieces of information are not provided as an exception applies under regulation Information is exempt under sections 30(b) if disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially: the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation (section 30(b)(ii)).
Although the exemption will often be applied to advice or to an exchange of views, it can apply to other types of information. What is important is whether the disclosure would have an inhibiting effect on the provision of advice or on the exchange on views.
Response to your request
1. I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.
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 Andrews House