Information

Eskdalemuir Rifle Ranges application and approval information: EIR release

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


Information requested

1. Copies of the application made by the target shooting club reference DDG 5/5 DG4, and all relevant correspondence;

2. Confirmation that the club approval letter dated 13 July 2017, reference DDG 5/5 DG4, was forwarded to the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland;

3. Details of any amendments to the 13 July 2017 club approval, reference DDG 5/5 DG4, and any other Scottish Government Firearms Act Club approvals granted to Gardners Guns and/ or Eskdale Forestry Limited along with copies of all relevant correspondence;

4. Confirmation whether the Scottish Government has given Firearms Act approval to the Fifty Calibre Shooters Association.

Response

You referred to Freedom of Information legislation but, 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), which means that your request does not also have to be dealt with 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. Please note, this is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

I note that parts of your request mention the locations of specific shooting ranges, however the information you have requested relates to shooting club approvals granted by Scottish Ministers. It may be helpful if I explain that club approvals granted by Scottish Ministers under reserved UK firearms laws (specifically, section 15 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988) only permit club members to shoot using club weapons without requiring their own, individual, firearms certificates. A Scottish Government club approval does not indicate that any particular piece of land is safe, nor does it confer permission to use a specific piece of land for shooting, which are matters for Police Scotland and the Local Authority respectively.

The responses to the four parts of your request are as follows:

1) Items 001 and 002 in the attachments relate to this part of your request. 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 11(2) (Personal data) of the EIRs applies. Regulation 11(2) provides that where the information requested includes personal data about a person other than the applicant and disclosure would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998, the public authority shall not make that personal data available. For this reason names and contact information has been redacted.

Please note that while item 001 refers to a “recent email conversation”, a careful examination of our records indicates that further detail is not held. The information we have released is all that we have on file from 2017.

2) It is standard practice that every firearms licence issued by Scottish Ministers is also copied to the Chief Officer of Police Scotland for their records. There does not seem to be any reason to suspect that this was not done in this instance. However, we do not routinely keep a record that licences have been forwarded. Therefore the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested and we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs.

Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because no record was kept at the time. This exception is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Taking account of all the circumstances of this case we consider that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception because we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

3) Items 003 to 013 in the attachments relate to this part of your request. Please note that the club reference number for Gardners Guns was changed to DDG 5/5 DG5 in 2020, as DDG 5/5 DG4 was already in use for another purpose. We have a record of a single variation made to the Gardners Guns club approval which was to change the club name and secretary, although this took longer than usual to process due to various factors that are indicated in the attachments. An exception under regulation 11(2) (Personal data) of the EIRs applies to some of the information in the attachments, and names and contact information has been redacted along with information that is out of scope of your request.

In relation to Eskdale/Eskdalemuir Forestry Limited, the Scottish Government has no record of any shooting club using these names. Therefore, the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested and we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs.

4) The Scottish Government has no record of ever having approved a club by this name, therefore we do not have the information you have requested and we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. However I understand that the Fifty Calibre Shooters Association are approved by the Home Office, as their secretary resides in England. You may wish to contact the Home Office firearms licensing team at dflu.firearms@homeoffice.gov.uk, who may be able to help you.

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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