Potential future uses, Fort George barracks, South Sutor Fort: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/18/03723  
Date received: 6 December 2018 
Date responded: 21 January 2018
Information requested
You asked for “Copies of all correspondence in which there is any discussion about the potential future uses of the following sites:
1) Fort George barracks, near Inverness
2) South Sutor Fort, near Cromarty”
You latterly clarified this to being all correspondence dated for the three years prior to the date of your request.
In regards to part 1 of your request, Fort George Barracks, I enclose some of the information you have requested. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exemption(s) under section(s) s.30(b)(i) and s.30(b)(ii).

In regards to part 2 of your request, South Sutor Fort, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have any of the information you have requested. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.
An exemption under section s.30(b)(i) and s.30(b)(ii) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested in regards to Fort George Barracks. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions on future potential uses of Fort George Barracks will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because this issue is still ongoing and decisions have not been taken, and/or these discussions relate to a sensitive issue.

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. 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 Ministers and officials a private space within which to explore and refine the Government’s policy position on future potential uses of Fort George Barracks, until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good policy 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.

The Scottish Government does not have the information
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested in regards to South Sutor.
About FOI

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
foi-18-03723 Information requested


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000 

The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 

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