- 14 Aug 2019
Date received: 15 Jul 2019
Date responded: 12 Aug 2019
Please provide copies of all correspondence between the Scottish Government and Edinburgh Airport in May and June 2019.
Some of the information you have requested that is held by us is enclosed. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information because exemptions under sections 30(b)(ii), 33(1)(b) and 38(1)(b), of FOISA apply to some of the information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in Annex to this letter.
Reasons for not providing information - Annex
An exemption applies
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) applies to some the information requested. 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 route development will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because these discussions are still ongoing and decisions have not been taken.
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 position on specific route development cases until decisions are made. 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 decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.
An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of the airline involved by giving competitors commercially sensitive information on opportunities being considered.
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal data relating to a third party) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details of individuals, and disclosing this would contravene the data protection principles on Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption 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 exemption.
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