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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Aberdeen railway line upgrade, Usan to Montrose: EIR release

Published: 24 Aug 2017

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/01662
Date received: 12 July 2017
Date responded: 23 August 2017

Information requested

Any correspondance, meetings, plans and consultations regarding the upgrade of the Railway line to Aberdeen between Usan and Montrose following the First Minister's announcement of Scottish Government funding for this project as part of the Aberdeen City Deal on 28th January 2016.

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.

We do endeavour to provide information whenever possible. The table below lists the information held by Transport Scotland for the period you specify, and these documents are attached.

Item Date From Document Title
1 18/01/2017 MSP Parliamentary Question – S5W-05985
2 22/05/2017 TS Terms of ReferenceAberdeen to Central Belt Reference Group
3 22/05/2017 TS Aberdeen to Central Belt Reference Group Agenda 22.06.17
4 22/05/2017 TS Inception Meeting Note1Aberdeen Central Belt Reference Group
5 14/06/2017 MSP Parliamentary Question – S5W-00748
6 14/06/2017 MSP Parliamentary Question – S5W-00750
7 21/06/2017 MSP Parliamentary Question – S5W-00949
8 07/2016 TS Aberdeen to Central Belt Rail Improvements
9 09/2016 TS Usan/£254 million investment
10 03/2017 TS Aberdeen to Dundee

Some of the information you have requested is available, details of where that specific information can be obtained, can be accessed via the following links:

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.

In reference to your request for details of meetings,plans and consultations. I can confirm that initial industry discussions were undertaken between Transport Scotland and Network Rail on 10 February 2016. These discussions identified potential infrastructure options for delivery between Aberdeen and Dundee, which will be reviewed and assessed by the recently established Aberdeen to Central Belt Reference Group, which commenced it work on 22 May 2017.

However in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because of exceptions under regulation(s) 10 (4) (d) and (e). The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

The following exceptions apply.

Regulation 10(4)(d) - material in the course of completion, unfinished documents or incomplete data. An exception under 10(4)(d) of the EIRs (material in the course of completion) applies to some of the information you requested.

This exception applies because to release the information at this stage would not demonstrate a conclusive policy outcome.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 disclosingthe 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. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to reach a conclusive policy outcome before official documents are released.

Regulation 10(4)(e) - internal communications. An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs internal communications applies to some of the information you have requested because it relates to internalexchanges and release could compromise our collective ability to reach an agreed policy position.

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. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between officials whilst we are still developing an agreed policy position.

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 Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

Published:
24 Aug 2017
Aberdeen railway line upgrade, Usan to Montrose: EIR release