- 14 Sep 2021
Date received: 24 Jun 2021
Date responded: 23 Aug 2021
1. All correspondence between the Scottish Government and South of Scotland Enterprise regarding the regeneration of Stranraer, including all proposals and cases for any waterfront development, and any correspondence relating to the £6 million pound allocation for Stranraer regeneration?
2. All correspondence between the Scottish Government and Dumfries and Galloway Council surrounding the £6 million allocated to Stranraer and awaiting drawdown by Dumfries and Galloway Council?
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. Attached is a copy of some of the information requested. This includes correspondence between the Scottish Government and South of Scotland Enterprise on the Borderlands Growth Deal, the respective Outline Business Case for the proposed Stranraer Marina development, as well as correspondence covering the £6 million commitment towards the redevelopment of the East Pier at Stranraer. Please note that we no longer hold the attachments as referred to in the correspondence from Scottish Government to South of Scotland Enterprise, dated 01 February 2020 and 04 August 2020, therefore those could not be included within this response to your request.
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(5)(f) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to interests of person who provided the 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 interests of Dumfries & Galloway Council who provided that information to the Scottish Government. They:
- were not under any legal obligation to give us that information;
- did not supply it in circumstances in which it could, apart from the EIRs, be made available; and
- have not consented to disclosure.
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. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the interests of anyone, such as Dumfries & Galloway Council, who provides the Scottish Government with information on a confidential basis. Disclosing such information against the express wishes of the stakeholder is likely to undermine their trust in the Government and make them reluctant in future to share information with us on issues such as the regeneration of Stranraer. This would significantly impair the Scottish Government’s ability to develop policies and make decisions on the basis of fully informed advice and evidence. This would not be in the public interest.
2. 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, your request covers a period of over 6 years and our initial searches indicate that we hold in excess of 12,000 items of correspondence. Each of these would need to be given further careful consideration to identify the specific information falling within the scope of your request. For these reasons, we consider that your request is 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 the regeneration of Stranraer, 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.
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.
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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House