- 2 Apr 2019
Date received: 22 Sep 2018
Date responded: 26 Mar 2019
You asked for the Scottish Government to provide any correspondence held from the following bodies that relates to the commercial use of kelp.
Firstly, I am interested in any briefings documents, presentations, reports, emails, text, WhatsApp or other electronic messages, or paper letters.
1. The Scottish Seaweed Association
2. Chemical Industries Association
Secondly, I would also like to receive copies of any correspondence between your organisation and any other public body or Scottish Minister that relates to any issue raised in correspondence received from the above two groups.
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.
An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to some the information you have requested because it is internal legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege.
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. 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, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.
An exception under regulation 10(5)(e) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to confidentiality of commercial information) applies to some 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 The Scottish Seaweed Association and thus cause substantial harm to their commercial interests. 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. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies which tender for Scottish Government contracts, to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.
Information has been withheld as it is otherwise publicly available – please see the below links that is information mentioned in the documents provided:
www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/heritagemanagement/EIA.pdf - Not available as of 2/4/2019
Response to your request
1. I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested. We do not hold any of the requested information about the Chemical Industries Association.
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