You asked for two documents relating to a planning appeal for the proposed Mochrum windfarm. The documents relate to Bat Roost Sites and recorded species records of Black grouse leks and Nightjar.
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.
An exception under regulation 10 5(g) of the EIRs applies to all the information you have requested as disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice substantially the protection of the environment to which the information relates. The species on both sites are identified as sensitive species of Scotland. The term sensitive refers to species that are vulnerable to persecution or over-exploitation and our decision is designed to help safeguard them from harm, deliberate or otherwise. In addition to this all bats species found in Scotland are classed as European protected species and receive full protection under the Habitats Regulations. Releasing this information could cause a disturbance of those species at those identified locations.
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 the public interest in planning appeals generally and more specifically proposed windfarm development. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in safeguarding sensitive and protected species.
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
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