Correspondence referring to ‘glyphosate’: EIR release

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


Information requested

Correspondence (including emails, attachments, typed or handwritten notes, letters, notes/records of phone calls, minutes of meetings, briefings, WhatsApp messages or otherwise) between Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon MSP, any other Scottish Government representatives and the National Farmers Union of Scotland, the Roslin Institute, the James Hutton Institute, the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society, mentioning ‘glyphosate’ in the period 18 May 2021 to 14 February 2022.

Any correspondence (including emails, attachments, typed or handwritten notes, letters, notes/records of phone calls, minutes of meetings, briefings, WhatsApp messages or otherwise) within the Scottish Government mentioning ‘glyphosate’ between 18 May 2021 to 14 February 2022.

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 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.

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested. Some of the information you have requested is available from:

Arable crops and Potato stores 2020 (sasa.gov.uk)

Pesticide Usage in Scotland (sasa.gov.uk)

pcn_working_group_-_final_report.pdf (planthealthcentre.scot)

Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the websites listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

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, due to the high volume of internal correspondence mentioning glyphosate the costs and resources involved would be disproportionate. For these reasons, we consider that the second part of 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 glyphosate, 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.

As you have asked for a common pesticide, internal correspondence between officials will always generate a high response. However, we do believe the first part of your request to be reasonable and have provided information to answer this part. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s ‘Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs’ on his website at: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourRights/Tipsforrequesters.aspx.

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.

FOI 202200280895 - Information released - Part 1

FOI 202200280895 - Information released - Part 2

FOI 202200280895 - Information released - Part 3

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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