- 30 Apr 2021
Date received: 25 Mar 2021
Date responded: 9 Apr 2021
With regards to the STAG Appraisal - Case for Change Report - March 2021 - A9 - North Kessock to Tore study:
1. How much WSP Consultants were paid for preparing the above study
2. Why has the list of representatives of stakeholder organisations at Appendix J of the report been redacted.
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.
1) An exception under regulation 10(5)(e) (Confidentiality of commercial or industrial information) of the EIRs applies to 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 WSP and thus cause substantial harm to their commercial interests. Disclosing this information would be likely to give WSP's competitors an advantage in future similar tendering exercises, which would substantially prejudice their 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 enter into Transport Scotland contracts to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.
2) Names have been redacted from the published report and appendices to minimise the risk of breaching privacy rights under data protection legislation. One of the key principles of UK data protection legislation is data minimisation’. As the individual names of representatives from stakeholder organisations constitute the personal data of those individuals, we took this approach to ensure that we processed information in a manner which was limited to that necessary for its purpose. In addition, individuals have the right to be informed upfront about how their information will be handled. As there were no plans to release the names of individuals involved into the public domain, stakeholder representatives were not told this would be part of the engagement process and therefore would have no expectation that their details would be published in the final report.
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