Dounreay-Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) waste substitution arrangement: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/18/03574  
Date received: 28 November 2018 
Date responded: 28 January 2019
Information requested
You asked for the following information, since January 2017, on the proposed Dounreay-ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) waste substitution arrangement:

“-Any communication to or from the Scottish Government (including Ministers and their special advisers) regarding this potential transfer
-Any briefing documents regarding the transfer.”
1. I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.

2. 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 sections 30(b)(i) (substantial inhibition of free and frank provision of advice) and 30(b)(ii) (substantial inhibition of free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
Exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) (substantial inhibition of free and frank provision of advice) and 30(b)(ii) (substantial inhibition of free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA apply to some the information you have requested.

These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and the frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. These exemptions recognise the need for officials to have a private space within which to to discuss and explore options, and to provide free and frank advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on our consideration of the waste substitution policy will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions involve work with other organisations and the UK Government.

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 exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. 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, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can explore and refine the Government’s position, and provide full and frank advice to Ministers, as part of the process of explaining and clarifying the Government’s policy on waste substitution. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.
About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at
foi-18-03574 Information requested


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Phone: 0300 244 4000 

The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 

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