Publication - FOI/EIR release

List of buyers and projects in the UK Woodland Carbon Registry: EIR release

Published: 10 Feb 2021

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

Published:
10 Feb 2021
List of buyers and projects in the UK Woodland Carbon Registry: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000116437
Date received: 25 Nov 2020
Date responded: 18 Dec 2020
Information requested

A list of all buyers setup in the UK Woodland Carbon Registry:

  • Contact Name
  • Company Name (If applicable)
  • Contact details (phone, email, address)
  • Date joined the register
  • Total quantity of WCU purchased to date

Could you also please provide me with a list of all projects in the UK Woodland Carbon Registry:

  • Date of application
  • Name
  • Project Type
  • Status
  • Validator
  • Developer (Name, address, contact information)
  • Country / Location
  • Size of planting proposed, Hectares

As per the IHS Markit website, and to provide this information in electronic format.

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.

Information on the UK Woodland Carbon Registry is provided in the attached spreadsheet at Annex B. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide all of the information you have requested because exceptions under regulation 6(1)(b) (information otherwise accessible) and Regulation 10(4)(b) of the EIRs apply to that information. The reasons why that exception applies are explained in the Annex A.

Annex A

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

Information otherwise accessible

Under the terms of the exemption at regulation 6(1)(b) (information otherwise accessible) of the EIRs apply to that information. We do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format.

A condition of the Woodland Carbon Code is that all projects and carbon units are publicly available as this is a condition of the Woodland Carbon Code standard: https://www.woodlandcarboncode.org.uk/standard-and-guidance/2-project-governance/2-6- registry-and-avoidance-of-double-counting

For project information see the UK Woodland Carbon Registry – Projects Tab: Within the projects, you can find the email address of each project developer in the public space.

Project developers with validated units looking to sell carbon credits and those with sold credits are mentioned here: https://www.woodlandcarboncode.org.uk/buy-carbon/woodland-carbonprojects

Credit purchases are held within three different tables, depending on whether or not the buyer has an account and whether the units are Pending Issuance or verified Woodland Carbon Units. As stated above it is a condition of the Woodland Carbon Code that all carbon units are visible on the public view of the registry.

All units which are ‘active’ are shown in the ‘holdings’ tab – This means either they are still in the project developer’s account (and unsold), or they are in a buyer’s account (and sold) but the buyer hasn’t ‘used’ them yet: Markit Registry - Holdings Tab.

If Pending Issuance Units have been sold upfront to a buyer without an account, then they are ‘assigned’ to that buyer (they have a tag with that buyer’s name which means they cannot be sold on): Markit Environmental Registry - Assigned Credits Tab

If verified Woodland Carbon Units have been ‘used’ by a buyer against their emissions, then they have to be ‘retired’ from the registry (taken out of circulation) – and they are shown here: Markit Environmental Registry - Retired Credits

Regulation 10(4)(b)

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, under the exception at regulation 10(4)(b) of the EIRs a public authority may refuse a request for information if it is ‘manifestly unreasonable’.

The Scottish Information Commissioner’s guidance on the regulation 10(4)(b) exception at: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/Law/EIRs/EIRsExceptions.aspx says that there may “be instances where it is appropriate for the Commissioner to consider the proportionality of the Page 4 burden on the public authority in terms of the costs and resources involved in dealing with a request when considering the application of this exception”

In this case, we have identified 1,250 records in the ‘assigned’ or ‘retired’ units tabs where the buyer’s name is part of a larger text field including comments about the assignment or retirement, the costs and resources involved in complying with the request would therefore be disproportionate and why a 20 working days extension to the response deadline (under regulation 7 of the EIRs) would still not make the request manageable. For these reasons, we consider that your request is manifestly unreasonable and so we are refusing it under regulation 10(4)(b).

As the exception is conditional we have applied the ‘public interest test’. This means we have, in all the circumstances of this case, considered if the public interest in disclosing 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 recognize that there may be some public interest in information about buyer data in the UK Woodland Carbon Code Registry this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring the efficient and effective use of public resources by not incurring excessive costs when complying with information requests.

You may however wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order to make it manageable by focusing on a particular aspect for instance, information the number of units held by buyers with accounts only. However we remind you that it is a condition of the Woodland Carbon Code that all carbon units are publicly available on the UK Woodland Carbon Registry in any case.

You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s ‘Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs’ on his website at: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourRights/Tipsforrequesters.aspx.

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