Publication - FOI/EIR release

Correspondence relating to A96 dualling Inverness to Aberdeen scheme: EIR release

Published: 12 Mar 2021

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

Published:
12 Mar 2021
Correspondence relating to A96 dualling Inverness to Aberdeen scheme: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202000123574
Date received: 11 Dec 2020
Date responded: 14 Jan 2021
Information requested

Please could you supply me with the A96 dualling Inverness to Aberdeen Programme Board meeting minutes, papers and material presented at any such meeting during the period from April 2020 to the current date.

Response

As all of 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.

Please see Annex A attached for information requested. 

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 an exception(s) under regulation(s) 11(2) of the EIRs applies to that information.

The 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. This exception has been applied to some of the information contained within this response.

A further exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is internal communication between Transport Scotland officials regarding the risk assessment of the A96 Dualling programme and the development and assessment of the A96 East of Huntly to Aberdeen scheme.

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, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on the risks surrounding the A96 Dualling programme and the development of the A96 Dualling East of Huntly to Aberdeen scheme will be disclosed in the future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that issue while it is still under discussion and development.

Additionally, an exception under regulation 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (unfinished or incomplete information) applies to Programme Board Meeting no. 15 minutes because it is material which is still in the course of completion. The minutes for this meeting will not be finalised until the next Board Meeting.

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. This is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that unfinished or incomplete information which is still being worked on is not disclosed when it might misinform the public.

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FOI202000123574 - Annex A.1

46 page PDF
3.6 MB

FOI202000123574 - Annex A.2

24 page PDF
3.6 MB

FOI202000123574 - Annex A.3

16 page PDF
2.1 MB

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