Publication - FOI/EIR release

Aberdeen Harbour Expansion Project documentation relating to Blasting Methodology Environmental Mitigation: EIR release

Published: 12 Mar 2019

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

Published:
12 Mar 2019
Aberdeen Harbour Expansion Project documentation relating to Blasting Methodology Environmental Mitigation: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/18/03699
Date received: 12 Dec 2018
Date responded: 5 Mar 2019
Information requested

 

1.    A copy of the report issued to MS-LOT (and SNH) by DRAGADOS/AHB, as specified in Sub-section 4.2 (Page 3) of the report headed Blasting Methodology Environmental Mitigation - Marine Mammals: Document AHEP-DRA-EMP-0003;

2.    Copies of data/data summaries/evaluations of vibration monitoring as specified in Section 4.2 (Page 4) of the report headed Blasting Methodology Environmental Mitigation - Marine Mammals: Document AHEP-DRA-EMP-0003;

3.    Written confirmation that the use of the term 'Charge size' (See item C under Section 3.1, Page 6 of report headed Blasting Methodology Environmental Mitigation - Marine Mammals: Document AHEP-DRA-EMP-0003 relates to the size of a charge of explosive inserted into a single drill hole, and that detonations involving multiple holes contain multiple 'charges';

4.    An explanation/confirmation as to why the copy of the report Blasting Methodology Environmental Mitigation - Marine Mammals: Document AHEP-DRA-EMP-0003 previously supplied by your offices appears either to have an incorrect page number sequence or, that pages have been removed; 

5.    Written confirmation as to whether gravel (or similar dense material) is placed upon the top of the highest explosive charge in any drill hole ('Stemming') to minimise blast energy impacts to the surrounding area. In addition, confirmation of the minimum Vertical Stemming Length (VSL) that may be required to minimise blast impacts in the Bay of Nigg; 

6.    Copies of the approved minutes of the last two meetings of the Project Steering/review group that includes SNH, MSS-LOT, the DeeDSFB and others. (Note: the full title of this group does not appear to be in the Public domain); 

7.    A copy of the recent application by DRAGADOS/AHB (confirmed by the project's Community Liaison Officer) to obtain a variation in the Marine licence re the use of acoustic scarers, and a reduction in the size of the 'Exclusion Zone' ('Mitigation zone')…

8.    Copies of any activity reporting/logs/data - or indeed anything to suggest that the protocols detailed under Item 16 (detailed above) are   being carried out.

Finally, I request details of the number and dates of site inspections (as detailed in the Marine Licence) that have been carried out by MS-LOT to ensure that the environmental mitigation protocol is being adhered to in full. Copies of the relevant Site Inspection Reports (Compliance Reporting) would also be useful.”

You clarified on 12th December 2018 that:

“I wish to clarify my FoI request re item 6 (detailed below). I understand that the group is called the Environmental Advisory Group.” 

One further clarification:
Item 8 (detailed below in my earlier email) refers to the environmental mitigation protocols detailed under Point 16 under Sub-section 4.2.1 (Blasting Environmental Controls) on Page 4 (of 23) in Blasting Methodology Environmental Mitigation - Marine Mammals: Document AHEP-DRA-EMP-0003.”

 

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.

In relation to your request for “written confirmation that the use of the term 'Charge size' (See item C under Section 3.1, Page 6 of report headed Blasting Methodology Environmental Mitigation - Marine Mammals: Document AHEP-DRA-EMP-0003 relates to the size of a charge of explosive inserted into a single drill hole, and that detonations involving multiple holes contain multiple 'charges'”, I can confirm that “charge size” refers to the size of the explosive inserted into a single drill hole, therefore multiple holes involves multiple charges. In relation to your request for “an explanation/confirmation as to why the copy of the report Blasting Methodology Environmental Mitigation - Marine Mammals: Document AHEP-DRA-EMP-0003 previously supplied by your offices appears either to have an incorrect page number sequence or, that pages have been removed”, I can confirm that the discrepancy in the page numbers appears to be an error in the page numbering of the original document. The document is 23 pages and no pages have been removed by the Scottish Government.

I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested. Specifically, in relation to your request for “a copy of the report issued to MS-LOT (and SNH) by DRAGADOS/AHB, as specified in Sub-section 4.2 (Page 3) of the report headed Blasting Methodology Environmental Mitigation - Marine Mammals: Document AHEP-DRA-EMP-0003”, please see document 001.  In relation to your request for “copies of the approved minutes of the last two meetings of the Project Steering/review group that includes SNH, MSS-LOT, the DeeDSFB and others. (Note: the full title of this group does not appear to be in the Public domain)”, please see documents 002 and 003. In relation to your request for “copies of any activity reporting/logs/data - or indeed anything to suggest that the protocols detailed under Item 16 (detailed above) are being carried out” please see documents 004-448 (note that documents 021-448 are contained within the subfolders in the folders titled “Marine Scotland Monthly Report…”). In relation to “the number and dates of site inspections (as detailed in the Marine Licence) that have been carried out by MS-LOT to ensure that the environmental mitigation protocol is being adhered to in full. Copies of the relevant Site Inspection Reports (Compliance Reporting) would also be useful”, I can confirm that 2 site inspections were undertaken on 03 December 2015 and 13 June 2017. Please see the site inspection reports in documents 449 and 450.

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 exceptions under regulations 10(4)(a) (information not held), 10(4)(d) (unfinished or incomplete information), 10(5)(b) (substantial prejudice to course of justice, fair trial, or criminal or disciplinary inquiry) and 11(2) (personal information of a third party) of the EIRs apply to that information. The reasons why these exceptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.

Information in relation to Aberdeen Harbour Expansion Project including reports submitted by the licensee and agent to Marine Scotland.

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.

 

ANNEX

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

Exceptions that apply

Exceptions under regulations 10(4)(a) (information not held), 10(4)(d) (unfinished or incomplete information), 10(5)(b) (substantial prejudice to course of justice, fair trial, or criminal or disciplinary inquiry) and 11(2) (personal information of a third party) of the EIRs apply to some of the information you have requested.

Regulation 10(4)(a) (information not held)

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 blasting and vibration modelling, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

Regulation 10(4)(d) – unfinished or incomplete information

An exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is unfinished draft documents.

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 some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that unfinished or incomplete information which was or is being worked on or is under active consideration is not disclosed when it might misinform the public or give a misleading impression of the Government’s view or position on the matter to which the information relates. 

Regulation 10(5)(b) – substantial prejudice to course of justice, fair trial, or criminal or disciplinary inquiry.

An exception under regulation 10(5)(b) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to course of justice) applies to some the information you have requested because it is 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.

Regulation 11(2) – personal information of a third party

An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information of a third party) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998.  This exception is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception.

 

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Contact

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