Publication - FOI/EIR release

Operators of the Mossmorran plant in Fife correspondence: FOI release

Published: 23 Oct 2019

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
23 Oct 2019
Operators of the Mossmorran plant in Fife correspondence: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/02181
Date received: 23 Sep 2019
Date responded: 21 Oct 2019
Information requested

You asked for “all emails, minutes, notes of telephone conversations and other documents pertaining to any meeting between representatives of ExxonMobil and/or Shell, the operators of the Mossmorran plant in Fife and representatives of the Scottish Government, whether officers or ministers, since July 2017.”

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested concerning the Scottish Government in the Annex and attachments to this letter.  While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because of exemptions under section 29(1)(a) (policy formulation); section 33(1b) (commercial interests) and section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information.  The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.

Annex - Reasons for not providing information
An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (policy formulation) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the forumaltaion of the Scottish Government’s policy on gender pay gap.

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 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. 

An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some the information requested.  This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of ExxonMobil Chemical Limited.  Disclosing this information would be likely give ExxonMobil Chemical Limited competitors an advantage, which could significantly harm their commercial business. 

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 and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money.  However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies by withholding the information concerned from their competitors. 

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) 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 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 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.

About FOI
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FOI-19-02181 - Emails

17 page PDF
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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG