Publication - FOI/EIR release

Correspondence with Edinburgh Zoo regarding pandas: EIR release

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

Published:
13 May 2021
Correspondence with Edinburgh Zoo regarding pandas: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202100177486
Date received: 16 Mar 2021
Date responded: 15 Apr 2021
Information requested

Copies of the following

1. All correspondence and information including but not limited to documents, reports, calls logged, notes of meetings and emails between Scottish Government and Edinburgh Zoo/RZSS in relation to the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo. I am looking for this information for dates from 01/08/2020 up until today’s date (16/03/2021) or more recent (when this information is being collated). This would include permits, inspections and licences. Or incident investigations.

2. All correspondence and information including but not limited to documents, reports, calls logged, notes of meetings and emails between Edinburgh Council and Scottish Government in relation to the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo. I am looking for this information for dates from 01/08/2020 up until today’s date (16/03/2021) or more recent (as above). This would include permits, inspections and licences. Or incident investigations.

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 regulation 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.

Attached is some of the 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 exemptions under regulations 11(2) (personal data of third party), 10(5)(a) (international relations), 10(4)(a) (information not held) and 10(5)(f) (third party interests) of EIRS apply to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.

Regulation 11(2)
An exemption(s) under regulation 11(2) of EIRS applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies because the information is personal data of a third person and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles of the United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation and in regulation 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test' where it relates to the names of public authority employees. 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. We have included the names of the organisations for which these public authority employees work.

Regulation 10(5)(a)
An exemption(s) under regulation 10(5)(a) of EIRS applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies where the disclosure of information would, or would likely cause, prejudice to international relations.

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. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining working relations between the UK and devolved administrations going forward. Ministers communicate in confidence as part of the policy development process and disclosure of such correspondence could have an adverse impact on the willingness to share such information in future.

Regulation 10(4)(a)
Our aim is to provide information whenever possible. However, in this instance, some of the information you have requested is not held by the Scottish Government for the purposes of EIRS because we received it in confidence from the UK Government. This means that, under the terms of regulation 10(4)(a) of EIRS, we are unable to disclose it in response to your request. However, you may wish to submit a new request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office at fcdo.correspondence@fcdo.gov.uk who should be able to help you further.

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. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about the export of livestock we cannot release information that has been provided in confidence by the UK Government as this may undermine our relationship with it in relation to any matter.

Regulation 10(5)(f)
An exemption(s) under regulation 10(5)(f) of EIRS applies to some of the information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of the information provided by RZSS would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the interests of an organisation that has voluntarily provided that information to the Scottish Government.

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 public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of an organisation or company which voluntarily provided information which is particularly sensitive at the present time.

You may also wish to be aware of the Scottish Enterprise report on the potential tourism economic impact of giant pandas which can be found at:
http://www.evaluationsonline.org.uk/evaluations/Browse.do?ui=browse&action=show&id=500&taxonomy=INT

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