Engagements relating to non-domestic rates on small-scale hydro schemes: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002


Information requested

all information held by the Scottish Government regarding a meeting held between Tom Arthur MSP, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth, as well as briefing in advance of his meeting, on 2nd September 2021 with the British Hydropower Association amongst others – a meeting relating to non-domestic rates on small-scale hydro schemes in Scotland. You have also requested all relevant materials, communications and briefings as well as minutes.

Response

1. While the aim of the Scottish Government is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under section s.38(1)(b), of FOISA apply to that information.

2. An exemption under section s.38 (1)(b) of FOISA applies to data that it is considered to be the personal data of a third party. Therefore, in the documents that fall within the scope of your request, I have redacted names and personal information. As our general approach is to publish all responses where information is being disclosed, when a response is prepared for publication we remove the requester’s name and other personal information as we consider that publication of that personal information would breach the data protection principles.

3. We are unable to provide some of the information, under the terms of your request because an exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to that information.

4. An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information contained within the briefing you have requested under the terms of your request, where the contents are considered to be advice to Ministers.

5. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in maintaining a private space within which policy positions can be explored and understood by Ministers. 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, for some of the information contained within the documents under the terms of your request, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. The basis for this is the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to ministers. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice would substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future. As such, some of the information within the scope of your request has been redacted.

6. Attachmented are a copy of the documents that fall within the scope of your request.

Table of Documents
2 September 2021 Ministerial Briefing
16 September and 7 October 2021 Excerpts that fall within the scope of the request from correspondence which refer to the meeting on 2nd September 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.

FOI202200281537 - Information released A

FOI202200281537 - Information released B

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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