Publication - FOI/EIR release

Tarbolton Landfill Site: EIR release

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

Published:
25 Mar 2021
Tarbolton Landfill Site: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202100133009
Date received: 6 Jan 2021
Date responded: 2 Mar 2021
Information requested

1. Information contained in copies of correspondence (including emails), internal and external reports, notes of internal and external meetings, and other documentation held by the Scottish Government (SG) in relation to any investigations, risk assessments, remediation strategies, requests for remediation funding or other matters connected with the Tarbolton Landfill Site, Tarbolton, South Ayrshire for the period from 1st January 2017 to date.

2. Information contained in the correspondence (including emails), reports, notes of meetings and calls, and any other documentation relating to SG dealings with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) connected with the matters referred to under item 1, for the period 1st January 2017 to date.

3. Information contained in the correspondence (including emails), internal and external reports, notes of internal and external meetings and calls, and other documentation held by any ministers or departments of SG in relation to all assessments to Landfill Tax made by Revenue Scotland in respect of ash wastes disposed of to the Tarbolton Landfill Site, Tarbolton, South Ayrshire, for the period from 2014 to date.

4. Information contained in the correspondence (including emails), reports, notes of meetings and calls, and any other documentation held by any ministers or departments of SG relating to SG and/or RS dealings with SEPA connected with the assessments referred to under item 3 and/or the RS pursuit of its claim for landfill tax with the Official Receiver/Liquidator of Tarbolton Landfill Ltd, for the period from 2014 to date.

5. Information contained in the correspondence (including emails), internal and external reports, notes of internal and external meetings and calls, and other documentation held by any ministers or departments of SG in relation to ash wastes and/or processed fines wastes disposed of to (a) the Garlaff Landfill Site, Cumnock, East Ayrshire, and/or (b) the Auchencarroch Landfill Site, Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, and/or (c) the Middleton Quarry, Lochlibo Road, Beith, North Ayrshire, for the period 1st January 2008 to date.

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.

I attach a copy of some of the information you requested.

As you are aware, 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.

An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs applies to some of the information you have requested. A Scottish public authority may refuse to make environmental information available to the extent that the request involves making available internal communications. This applies to internal communications such as legal advice, internal policy development and discussions and advice to Ministers.

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 because of our invested interest in open and transparent government. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in the essential need for free and honest private discussion at preliminary stages of consideration, as well as the importance of relationships of trust with stakeholders in policy formulation.

An exception under regulation 10(5)(e) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to confidentiality of commercial information) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the confidentiality of commercial information provided by Albion Environmental Ltd, and SLR Consulting Limited, and thus cause substantial harm to their commercial interests. Disclosing this information would be likely to give Albion Environmental Ltd and SLR Consulting Limited's competitors an advantage in future similar tendering exercises, which would substantially prejudice Albion Environmental Ltd and SLR Consulting Limited’s ability to submit competitive tenders and so could significantly harm their commercial business.

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 and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies which tender for, or enter into Scottish Government contracts, to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.

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