- 1 Mar 2021
Date received: 2 Jan 2021
Date responded: 29 Jan 2021
I bring to your attention Scottish Development International's statement "Scotland has 25% of Europe's offshore wind and tidal resource" made at the following URL: https://www.sdi.co.uk/keysectors/ renewable-energy-and-low-carbon
Can you please provide
(1) Any discussions or analysis conducted by the Scottish Government regarding Scotland's percentage of Europe's offshore wind resources.
(2) Any discussions or analysis conducted by the Scottish Government regarding Scotland's percentage of Europe's tidal resources.
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.
I am able to provide you with some information of relevance to your request, in terms of the following explanation of the “25% of Europe's offshore wind and tidal resource” figure you quote in your request. This is a dated but often used figure. In the case of “offshore wind” the figure can be derived from the information in:
- Scotland’s Renewable Resource (Scottish Government/Garrad Hassan)
- Wind Force 10 – a blueprint to achieve 10% of the world’s electricity from wind power by 2020” European Wind Energy Association, Forum for Energy and Development, and Greenpeace International (October 1999).
For the tidal resource, this can be derived from these reports:
- Black & Veatch Consulting Ltd. (2005); “Phase II UK tidal stream energy resource assessment. Technical report 107799/D/2200/03, Carbon Trust, London.
- The Offshore Valuation Study (Public Interest Research Centre)
https://www.publicinterest.org.uk/offshore/ (different download options available)
The Scottish government have also recently published a Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy. Whilst the focus of this plan is strictly the Scottish marine area, one of the early scoping reports sets out how potential resource is identified and assessed. That particular report is available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scoping-areas-search-study-offshore-wind-energy-scottishwaters- 2018/
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 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, the costs and resources involved in complying with your request for ‘any discussions and analysis conducted by the Scottish Government’ regarding Scotland's percentage of Europe's offshore wind resources and tidal resources respectively would be disproportionate. Preliminary searches based on your request have been carried out and returned several thousands of results. Each of which would each need to be examined to determine if it fell within the scope of your request.
Due to the volume of records which would need to be searched, 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 as submitted to us falls within the definition of being ‘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 recognise that there may be some public interest in information about Scotland’s share of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal resources, 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. For example, you could specify particular types of “discussions” or information you are seeking or restrict your request to a specific business area of the Scottish Government, or to a specific time period, as this would allow us to limit the searches that would require to be conducted.
You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s ‘Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs’ 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