- All correspondence regarding sewage in Scottish waters between the Scottish Government, including MSPs, civil servants and offices and the Scottish Greens this year.
- All briefings prepared for government ministers regarding sewage in Scottish waters this year.
- How much money has the Scottish Government spent on preventing sewage overflows and sewage going into Scottish waters in each of the following years, with breakdown on what it was spent on: 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.
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.
Response to your request
I have provided a response to each of your questions separately.
The correspondence we have on record relates to Parliamentary Questions, therefore all of the information you have requested is available from https://www.parliament.scot/chamber-andcommittees/ questions-and-answers. 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.
I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.
An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to all of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exception is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception.
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 10(4)(e) (internal communications) of the EIRs applies to that information. The reason why that exception applies is that all of the documents involve internal communications between officials and Ministers.
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 for specific elements of the advice - it is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can properly answer Parliamentary questions, provide sound information to Parliament (to which they are accountable), and robustly defend the Government’s policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.
However, we recognise that there is some public interest in the topic of sewage pollution and therefore the factual material contained in the internal communications has been provided. Redaction of internal communications relates to pages 9, 11, 12, 25, 26, 61, 65 and 73. All other redactions relate to personal information or material outwith the scope of the request.
The answer to your question is that the Scottish Government does not spend money on the prevention of sewage overflows. The public sewerage network is owned by Scottish Water, and therefore it is a matter for Scottish Water to invest in improving its assets to meet environmental obligations. You may therefore wish to contact Scottish Water for further information. Contact details are available at https://www.scottishwater.co.uk/Help-and-Resources/Contact-Us.
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.
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- 26 page PDF
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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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