Information

Forth Road Bridge Maintenance Costs: EIR release

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


Information requested

Since the opening of the Queensferry Crossing, roadworks have never stopped on the Forth Road Bridge. Extensive work is ongoing and I ask:

  1. What was the budget for the last 5 years?
  2. What was the cost for the last 5 years
  3. What is the budget for future years
  4. As the bridge is only open to a small number of authorised vehicles, how can the Government justify what is likely to be excessive expenditure, when all government budgets are under pressure?

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.

To aid with my response I have numbered your questions above.

1) What was the budget for the last 5 years?

Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), Transport Scotland is not required to provide information which it does not have. We do not have the information you have requested as, under the 4G Forth Bridges Operating Company Contract (which ended 15 August 2020) the Forth Bridges Unit (M9 Junction 1A to M90 Junction 3 ) had an overall budget which included the Forth Road Bridge (FRB) and agreed programme of work but the FRB didn’t have a separate budget. Similarly under the NMC South East Operating Company Contract (commenced 16 August 2020) the South East Unit was provided with an overall budget and agreed programme of work but the FRB didn’t have a separate budget.

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. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about past maintenance budgets for the Forth Road Bridge, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.


2) What was the cost for the last 5 years?

The maintenance costs for the last 5 financial years are available from the Forth Bridges Website at Forth Road Bridge Maintenance (theforthbridges.org). 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 website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

3) What is the budget for future years?

Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), Transport Scotland is not required to provide information which it does not have. We do not have the information you have requested as future budgets have yet to be agreed.

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. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about future maintenance budgets for the Forth Road Bridge, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

4) As the bridge is only open to a small number of authorised vehicles, how can the Government justify what is likely to be excessive expenditure, when all government budgets are under pressure?

The Forth Road Bridge provides a dedicated public transport corridor, including allowing pedestrians and cyclists to cross the Forth Estuary which are not able to cross over on the Queensferry Crossing. The reduced traffic enables maintenance works to be carried out with lower costs and increased safety. However, the need to maintain the bridge in a safe condition is not reduced by the reduced footfall. Wind loading is the predominate load that the bridge has to carry. Much of the maintenance works required on the bridge has been delayed until after opening of the Queensferry Crossing as it was not ossible to carry out the works when the bridge was open to traffic.

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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