- 19 Nov 2020
Date received: 16 Sep 2020
Date responded: 14 Oct 2020
All relevant information, emails, plans and other documents that the Scottish Government holds which relate to the decision to locate a mast at Traquair, and at the particular site chosen, under the S4GI programme, including any analysis of existing 4G coverage in the area, any discounted options, all relevant correspondence with WHP, and any state aid analysis and advice relating to the S4GI programme.
As the information you have requested includes '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 and the information provided
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.
In relation to the first parts of your request covering: mast location, site chosen, existing 4G coverage, discounted options, and relevant correspondence with WHP Telecoms Ltd; five documents are enclosed. These are:
“S4GI029 Offered Sites”;
“S4GI029 Nomination Form V4”;
“S4GI029 Search Report” (with redactions), and;
“S4GI029 EE Site Nomination Form” (with redactions).
Appropriate redactions have been made to protect personal details and commercially sensitive financial information.
No correspondence between the Scottish Government and WHP Telecoms Ltd pertaining to the above aspects of this particular site is held by the Scottish Government
For information, a State Aid consultation was published by the Scottish Government in relation to the S4GI programme in September 2018. This considered 100 potential additional candidate sites for inclusion into the programme, the mast at Traquair (S4GI029) being one. The consultation and its responses can be accessed at: https://consult.gov.scot/digital-directorate/scottish-4g-infill- programme-consultation/.
Finally, you have asked for State Aid analysis and advice relating to the S4GI programme.
An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to the information requested because it is internal legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege. 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, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.
For information, the State Aid treatment of the Scottish 4G Infill Programme is set out in a document published by the Scottish Government in March 2018 which can be accessed at:
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