- 2 Dec 2019
Date received: 1 Nov 2019
Date responded: 22 Nov 2019
“…correspondence between the housing minister & his staff and a land agent called Gladman regarding a planning appeal for housing in Strathblane that is currently being considered.”
I clarified your request, and ascertained that the case referred to was PPA-390-2060-1, and that you would like records of correspondence (meetings, calls, emails, other messages) and the content of any correspondence (minutes of meetings, minutes of calls, emails, other messages) between any combination of the housing minister and Gladmans, the housing ministers staff and Gladmans, as well as any correspondence including all three of the parties mentioned. You stated that you would like the information from July 2018 until present.
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.
Most of the information you have requested is available from http://www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk/CaseDetails.aspx?id=120455. 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 websites listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
I enclose information falling within the remit of your request which is not published on a website.
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.
An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is internal communication between Scottish Government Ministers and officials about the formulation of government policy.
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 discussions on policy position on 5 year effective land supply will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that issue while it is still under discussion and development.
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