- 28 Jan 2019
Date received: 6 December 2018
Date responded: 21 January 2018
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 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.
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.
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 Andrew's House