Publication - FOI/EIR release

West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project correspondence: EIR review

Published: 30 Dec 2019

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

Published:
30 Dec 2019
West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project correspondence: EIR review
FOI reference: FOI/19/02451
Date received: 27 Oct 2019
Date responded: 24 Dec 2019
Information requested

Please provide any and all correspondence, no matter how related, email (or any other electronic means), telephone records and letters sent and received by Marine Scotland in relation to a project titled "West Coast Salmon Smolt Tracking Project" being undertaken by the Atlantic Salmon Trust. 

Additionally please provide all correspondence (as previously defined) between Marine Scotland and the Atlantic Salmon Trust in 2019, to date.

Response

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.

I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.  This accompanies this letter, and is in the form of a single pdf document which includes all of the relevant emails and other documents we hold.  Should you require a hard copy of this information, please let me know.

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 exceptions under regulations 10(4)(d) (unfinished or incomplete information), regulation 10(4)(e) (internal communications) and regulation 11(2) (personal information) of the EIRs apply to that information.  The reasons why those exceptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.

Annex - Reasons for not providing information
An exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is material relating to discussions on potential funding levels and allocations and is not yet complete. 

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 an announcement planned for early January 2020. 

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 officials, and between officials and Ministers about potential resourcing and financial support for the proposed “Missing Salmon project”; and the role which the Scottish Government / Marine Scotland would play in helping to take forward that project. 

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 Scottish Government’s involvement in the West Coast Smolt Tracking Project 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. 

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.

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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