- 17 May 2019
Date received: 15 Apr 2019
Date responded: 16 May 2019
Details and outcomes of analysis conducted on the impact of including glass in the Scottish Government's forthcoming deposit return scheme compared with the current recycling systems.
We have interpreted your request as applying to any analysis held by the Scottish Government and conducted by us or Zero Waste Scotland on our behalf.
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.
The Scottish Government published its analysis of the responses to our public consultation on the design of a deposit return scheme on 21 February 2019. The analysis considers views expressed by respondents on, amongst other things, the range of materials to be captured through any such scheme. The publication can be viewed at: https://consult.gov.scot/environment-forestry/deposit-return-scheme/
On 8 May the Scottish Government published its Deposit Return Scheme Full Business Case Stage 1 which includes an analysis of the impact of a Scottish deposit return scheme including glass. A copy of that document can be viewed at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/deposit-return-scheme-scotland-full-business-case-stage-1/ .
Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format.
Finally, I am enclosing a further two documents which fall within the scope of your request. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide you with all of the information you have requested because exceptions under regulation(s) reg 10(4)(e) (internal communications) and 10(5)(f) (compromise the interest of someone who had provided information) apply. The reasons for the application of those exceptions are explained in the Annex to this letter.
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
An exception under Regulation 10(4)(e) has also been applied in respect of certain information. That Regulation states “a Scottish public authority may refuse to make environmental information available to the extent that the request involves making available internal communications”. The information requested involves communications between civil servants and Ministers.
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, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the detail of discussions on the inclusion of glass in DRS is likely to be disclosed, recognising that such disclosure may undermine or constrain the Government’s development of wider policy in this area.
An exception under regulation 10(5)(f) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to interests of person who provided the information) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the interests of organisations who provided that information to the Scottish Government. They:
· were not under any legal obligation to give us that information;
· did not supply it in circumstances in which it could, apart from the EIRs, be made
· have not consented to disclosure.
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. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the interests of anyone, such as British Glass, who provides the Scottish Government with information on a confidential basis. Disclosing such information against the express wishes of the stakeholder is likely to undermine their trust in the Government and make them reluctant in future to share information with us on issues such as business analysis. This would significantly impair the Scottish Government’s ability to develop policies and make decisions on the basis of fully informed advice and evidence. This would not be in the public interest.
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