Information

A9 and A96 dualling programme: EIR release

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


Information requested

1. All meetings held by the Scottish Government regarding the dualling of the A96 between 2016 and 2022.

2. All correspondence conducted by the Scottish Government regarding the dualling of the A96 between 2016 and 2022.

3. All advice given to the Scottish Government regarding the dualling of the A96 between 2016 and 2022.

We sent an email on 11 January 2022 requesting clarification. Following our receipt of your clarification on 17 January 2022, it was confirmed that your request is specific to: “correspondence between Ministers of the Scottish Government, Members of the UK Parliament from the Scottish National Party and government special advisors regarding the dualling of the A9 and A96 from 2016 to date”.

Response

As all of 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.

Please find below response to requests for information you made in your email.

Please refer to Annex A and B in response to your request for information which includes correspondence between Ministers of the Scottish Government, Members of the UK Parliament from the Scottish National Party and government special advisors (SpAds) regarding the dualling of the A9 and A96 from 2016 to date.

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. This exception has been applied to Annex A and B contained within this response.

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 an exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to some of the information because it is internal communications between SpAds and Ministers and SpAds and SpAds about the A96 dualling programme. This exception has been applied to Annex A and B contained within this response. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below.

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 as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications.

Further information
Please note that the correspondence from Fergus Ewing MSP and Drew Hendry dated 17 June 2021 was subsequently withdrawn with no response issued. This was due to a meeting arranged and held on 08 July 2021.

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

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