Correspondence of Scottish Government officials regarding Climate Emergency: EIR release

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

Information requested

You asked for ‘all emails sent and received by 1) the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform; and 2) the First Minister. that refer to a Climate Emergency. This should cover the period from 1 February 2019 to 11 May 2019’.


I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested, split into two sections, one for emails to and from the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform and the other with emails to and from the First Minster.  I have put the emails in to two separate sets of tables and coloured every alternate one grey to make them easier to read. 

Some of the information you have requested is available from

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.  If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

Whilst our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exception under regulation 10(4)(e) internal communications in relation to general policy and decision-making applies to that information.  The reasons why that exception applies are explained in the Annex to this letter. 

We have also applied an exception under regulation 11(2) – Personal data of a third party which allows us to redact the names and telephone numbers of most staff members and also names, addresses and telephone numbers of the general public who have submitted emails.

Reasons for not providing information - Annex
Regulation 10(4)(e) – internal communications [in relation to general policy and decision-making]

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 debateHowever, 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 discussions on policy relating to climate change will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development. 

Regulation 11(2) – applicant has asked for personal data of a third party

An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) 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 Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. 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.

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI-19-01246 - Information Released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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