- 29 Mar 2021
Date received: 28 Oct 2020
Date responded: 5 Mar 2021
The Scottish Government stated in its programme for government on 1 September that in the lead up to the Scottish National Investment Bank launch, engagement is underway with bus operators on options to support the net-zero transition. I would like to request all information that the government holds relating to this engagement, and all information that the government holds relating to developing support for net zero transition with the Scottish National Investment Bank.
In particular, looking for any information which relates to the development of greener or net zero carbon options for public transport. I would like to concentrate on the development of options for busses. This is in relation to the Programme for Government's assertion that the Government will work with the Bank to stimulate opportunities for immediate and strategic investment in zero or low emission buses. Therefore, I would like to see any recorded information between the Government and the Bank on this subject.
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.
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.
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 regulation 10(4)(d), 10(4)(e) and 10(5)(f) of the EIRs apply to that information. The reasons why those exceptions apply are explained below:
The following regulations apply to some of the information you have requested:
- Regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs - this exception applies to material which is still in the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data;
- Regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs - this exception applies to internal communications between Government officials; and
- Regulation 10(5)(f) of the EIRs – this exception applies to information provided by a third party where its disclosure would or would be likely to, prejudice substantially their interests.
These exceptions are all 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 exceptions. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the greater public interest in maintaining high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that all available options need to be able to be examined, in order that their possible implications are fully understood. In particular, releasing the information risks creating a false impression of ongoing policy work, and commercially sensitive information, which could impact investment in low carbon buses and therefore negatively impact the policy aim.
Please note: some sections marked redacted are simply out of scope of the request.
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