1. Has the Scottish Government since 2020 commissioned any studies to evaluate the capital cost, engineering viability and likely return on investment of exporting water to England?
2. Has the Westminster government made any formal or informal requests to the Scottish Government to discuss exporting water to England?
3. Have any private concerns or foreign governments approached the Scottish Government with proposals to exploit Scotland's water on the international market (including England)?
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.
The answer to your questions are stated below:
1. The Scottish Government has not commissioned any new studies to explore the potential of exporting water to England.
2. The Scottish Government has not received any requests from the UK Government to discuss exporting water.
3. We have not received any proposals in relation to exploiting Scotland's water on the international market.
It may help if I add that the Scottish Government still considers that there is no commercial viability of bulk export of water to England or internationally owing to the high costs of transport and pumping and the volume of water required, particularly in light of the rise in energy costs. The Scottish Government is very much aware of the value of water, in economic, social and environmental terms, and works hard to develop growth through its water management skills and technologies. Indeed the water sector is one of the best performing sectors in the economy; we have over 300 businesses working at home and overseas selling water services and technologies and we support them and other activity designed to maximise the value we can get from Scotland’s water resources through a range of initiatives under our Scotland the Hydro Nation programme. Further information on this topic can be found in our annual reports, the latest of which is available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/hydronation-annual-report-2021/.
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.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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