Publication - FOI/EIR release

Information on a potential new Cost Benefit Analysis of the A96 Dualling project: EIR release

Published: 30 May 2019

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

Published:
30 May 2019
Information on a potential new Cost Benefit Analysis of the A96 Dualling project: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/19/01185
Date received: 3 May 2019
Date responded: 30 May 2019
Information requested

In your request, you noted that:-
“Cost estimates for the A96 Dualling project are now publicly stated (£3 billion) to be more than double those used in the Business Case (£1.496 billion) calculations (published under FOI-18-01932)"

You asked:-
“Have Transport Scotland, or their appointed consultants, carried out new Cost Benefit Analysis and a full re-evaluation of economic case to reflect this doubling of cost estimates?

If they have please can you provide the data, relevant documentation and resulting reports?

If they have not can you advise whether they intend to carry out new Cost Benefit Analysis and a full re-evaluation of economic case?”

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.

Response

I can advise that the £3 billion estimated cost for the A96 Dualling Inverness to Aberdeen Programme which was initially stated by the then Transport Minister, Mr Keith Brown MSP, in September 2013 (https://www.transport.gov.scot/news/contract-awarded-for-environmental-work-on-a96-dualling-programme/) is not more than double the figure quoted in the 2014 Inverness to Aberdeen Corridor Study: A96 Dualling Strategic Business Case. I would note that the two figures that have been quoted in your request are not directly comparable.

The cost estimate range quoted, and reported on in the Strategic Business Case, of £1.4 - £1.5 billion is the cost estimate value after it had been adjusted to take account of the difference in market prices between 2014 and 2010 using RPI (Retail Price Index) and discounted to 2010 values for assessment purposes. Discounting is used to compare costs and benefits occurring over different periods of time on a consistent basis. It is necessary to have a base year for discounting and in accordance with relevant guidance the current base year is defined as 2010. It is therefore the estimated cost at an early stage in the design and assessment process at 2014 market prices and discounted to 2010.

It is also important to note that the Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) section of the A96 Dualling was included in the ‘do minimum’ scenario for the Strategic Business Case (as the strategic business case for the A96 Dualling Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) scheme was the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) published in 2008) and was therefore not included in the estimated cost used in this assessment (i.e. the estimated cost as reported in the A96 Dualling Strategic Business Case did not include the estimated cost of the Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) section as the Strategic Business Case for this section was the STPR published in 2008).

The estimated cost work undertaken as part of the A96 Dualling Strategic Business Case and the estimated cost of the Inverness to Nairn (including Nairn Bypass) section (at 2014 prices) along with estimated inflation to completion of the dualling programme by 2030 forms the estimated £3 billion quoted for dualling between Inverness and Aberdeen. As the design and preparation work is progressed along the length of the route a more detailed estimate for each section will be developed.

In response to your first question, I can confirm that Transport Scotland, nor our appointed consultants, have not carried out new Cost Benefit Analysis and a full re-evaluation of A96 Dualling economic case as reported in the Strategic Business Case.

In response to your second question, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested as a re-evaluation of the economic case as reported in the Strategic Business Case has not been carried out. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below.

In response to your third question, at this stage Transport Scotland does not intend to carry out new Cost Benefit Analysis and a full re-evaluation of the economic case for the full A96 Dualling between Inverness and Aberdeen. However, I can confirm that an economic assessment will be undertaken for each of the sections that make up the A96 Dualling Programme as part of the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges assessment process with the outcome of each published on the Transport Scotland website once complete.

I can confirm that an economic assessment has been undertaken for the following sections of the A96 Dualling and published on the Transport Scotland website:

In respect of the A96 Dualling East of Huntly to Aberdeen section I can confirm that the DMRB Stage 2 route options Traffic & Economic Assessment is currently being developed the outcome of which will be reported in a DMRB Stage 2 Scheme Assessment Report. The route options assessment process for this section is on-going with a view to identifying a preferred option later this year. An exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) therefore applies to the information you have requested because it is material which is still in the course of completion. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

The Scottish Government does not have the information
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. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because a full re-evaluation of the economic case for the A96 Dualling as reported in the Strategic Business Case has not been undertaken.

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 data, relevant documentation and resulting reports from a full re-evaluation of economic case for the A96 Dualling clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

Material in course of completion, unfinished documents or incomplete data
An exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to the information you have requested because it is material which is still in the course of completion. The Traffic & Economic Assessment of the options under consideration on the A96 Dualling East of Huntly to Aberdeen scheme is currently being developed, to inform the preferred route option decision expected to be announced and reported in a DMRB Stage 2 Scheme Assessment Report later this year.

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 this will be met by our planned publication of the A96 Dualling East of Huntly to Aberdeen DMRB Stage 2 Scheme Assessment Report later this year. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that unfinished or incomplete information which is still in 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.

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Contact

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