- 2 Jun 2021
Date received: 22 Apr 2021
Date responded: 14 May 2021
I would like to see all correspondence relating to conversations or meetings between ministers or civil servants of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform directorate with representatives of Scottish Land and Estates Ltd, in the year 2020.
I am particularly interested in correspondence between that organisation's Chief Executive Sarah-Jane Laing and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing MSP or civil servants reporting to him.
In accordance with regulation 16(3)(b) of the EIRs, I have also reached a decision on your request.
I apologise for the delay in responding to your original request. Regrettably due to an administrative error your request was overlooked.
As you are no doubt aware, during the current Covid-19 pandemic, officials have been dealing with unprecedented levels of email correspondence many outwith their normal area of responsibility and I can only once again apologise for Scottish Government’s failure to respond within the original deadline.
I can now provide our response to your original request.
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.
Attached is a copy of most of the information requested.
A small amount of information has been redacted because an exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies. This is because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details of more junior officials, 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 information is marked as [redacted] within the documents disclosed. 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.
5th March 2020 - Email request to stakeholders on Rent Review
24 March 2020 – Email and response from Scottish Land and Estates
30 March 2020 – email from SLE on Tenants’ Amnesty
6 April 2020 – Letter to stakeholders on Tenants’ Amnesty
7th April 2020- Email exchange between SLE and Scottish Government on Rent Review
5 May 2020 - Email chain to stakeholder groups - Tenants Amnesty
5 May 2020 - Email from SLE- Stage 1 of Agricultural Bill
13 May 2020 - Email update to stakeholder groups- Tenants Amnesty
20 May 2020 – Press statement from SLE on Rent Reviews
9 July 2020 – Invitation from SLE to Cabinet Secretary to provide a short video for the helping it Happen Awards and acceptance from Cabinet Secretary
14 August 2020 - Email exchange on Agricultural Bill preparation - Stage 3
18 August 2020 - Correspondence from SLE to Cabinet Secretary on Agriculture Bill
1 September 2020 – Email exchange to discuss Programme for Government with Land Reform team
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