Publication - FOI/EIR release

Correspondence pertaining to the welfare of sheep on St Kilda: EIR release

Published: 26 Oct 2021

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

Published:
26 Oct 2021
Correspondence pertaining to the welfare of sheep on St Kilda: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202100235081
Date received: 30 Aug 2021
Date responded: 27 Sep 2021
Information requested

A copy of your division’s correspondence, internal and external, pertaining to the welfare of, specifically the sheep on the St Kilda archipelago – including their considered legal welfare status – from the time of preliminary discussions around the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 to the present day

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 a copy of 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 exceptions under regulations 11(2) (personal data of third party) and 10(4)(e) (internal communications) of EIRS apply to that information. The reasons why those exceptions apply are explained below.

Regulation 11(2)
An exception under regulation 11(2) of EIRS (personal information) applies to some of the information you have requested.

This exception applies because the information is personal data of a third person (i.e. staff names, phone numbers, etc.) and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles of the United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation and regulation 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.

Regulation 10(4)(e)​
An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of EIRS applies to some of the information you have requested because it is internal communications between officials of public organisations working for the same public function about the welfare of sheep on the St Kilda archipelago.

This 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 as part of open and transparent government. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining working relations between the Scottish Ministers and their officials in allowing a private space in which officials can provide free and frank advice and views to brief Ministers on policy options.

It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can properly provide sound information to Parliament (to which they are accountable), and robustly defend the Government’s policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.

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