Publication - FOI/EIR release

Exercise Hazel and Exercise Juniper reports: EIR release

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

Published:
26 Nov 2020
Exercise Hazel and Exercise Juniper reports: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000087700
Date received: 12 Sep 2020
Date responded: 9 Oct 2020
Information requested

Copies of the reports of the lessons identified from two avian influenza exercises, Exercise Juniper in 2018 and Exercise Hazel in 2019.

Response

As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the 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.

The purpose of these exercises was to create possible animal disease scenarios and identify solutions to issues that may arise during an avian influenza outbreak.  These exercises are a means of policy development and planning for both government and industry.

Exercise Hazel

An exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to the information you have requested in connection with Exercise Hazel because it is material which is still in the course of completion. We are still in the process of drafting this report.

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.

However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that unfinished or incomplete information which is still in being worked on is not disclosed when it might misinform the public on the matter to which the information relates.  

However, you may wish to be aware that we expect that the information you have requested will be published in November 2020.  We will advise you when this has been done and provide a link to the published report.

Exercise Juniper

I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide a small amount of the information you have requested because an exception under regulation 10(5)(f) (substantial prejudice to interests of person who provided the information) applies.

This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the interests of the third party who participated in Exercise Juniper and who provided that information to the Scottish Government. They:

  • were not under any legal obligation to give us that information;
  • did not supply it in circumstances in which it could, apart from the EIRs, be made available;
  • have not consented to disclosure.

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 a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government.

However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the interests of anyone, such as third parties who participate in these exercises on a voluntary basis, who provides the Scottish Government with information on a confidential basis. Disclosing such information against the express wishes of the stakeholder is likely to undermine their trust in the Government and make them reluctant in future to share information with us on issues such as exercises in connection with animal health matters. This would significantly impair the Scottish Government’s ability to develop policies and make decisions on the basis of fully informed advice and evidence. This would not be in the public interest.

I can advise that we also intend to publish this report in November 2020 and we will again advise you when this has been done and provide a link to the final published version.  In the meantime I enclose a copy of the report in its present format. 

About FOI

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.

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