- 21 Jan 2020
Date received: 26 Nov 2019
Date responded: 16 Jan 2020
You asked for:
a) the number of trees felled for all onshore wind farm development in Scotland to date.
b) the area of felled trees, in hectares, for all onshore wind farm development in Scotland to date.
With the dates clarified to be 1 January 1995 and 31 December 2019.
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 some of the information you requested.
Specifically data covering renewable developments on Scotland’s national forests and lands, which is managed on behalf of Scottish Ministers by Forestry and Land Scotland.
The area of felled trees in hectares, from 2000 (the date when the first scheme was developed, is 6,994 hectares. Based on the average number of trees per hectare, of 2000, this gives an estimated total of 13.9M.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. Namely data on renewable developments on privately owned woodlands. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs.
The reasons why that exception applies are explained in the Annex.
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
The Scottish Government does not have the information
Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not hold the data you have requested relating to privately owned woodlands.
Planning authorities control woodland removal associated with windfarm developments by way of planning conditions, including associated replanting obligations. Where windfarm developments will impact on woodland, Scottish Forestry (an agency of the Scottish Government) provides advice to the relevant planning authority, in line with the Scottish Government’s Control of Woodland Removal Policy. Scottish Forestry does not consistently hold data on the final consented felled area for individual schemes (or summary statistics on tree-felling associated with wind farm developments).
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. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about the area of woodland removed for windfarms clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.
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