FOI reference: FOI/17/01681
Date received: 14 July 2017
Date responded: 9 August 2017
The following information:
The Policy and Guidelines regarding the monitoring, control and closure of the Clackmannanshire Bridge in high winds in place during January 2015.
The orders issued regarding the closure of the Clackmannanshire Bridge during January 2015.
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.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance, Transport Scotland does not have the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exception applies is as in January 2015 Transport Scotland did not have a published High Winds Management Policy or Guidelines in place for the Clackmannanshire Bridge.
In January 2015 Transport Scotland through Traffic Scotland and its Operating Company responsible for the Clackmannanshire Bridge were in the process of developing operating protocols which incorporated an interim procedure for the use of Variable Message Signs (VMS) to advise when high winds were impacting the Clackmannanshire Bridge.
This procedure which was under development at this time involved setting a series of threshold speeds for the wind monitoring equipment and when these levels were exceeded pre-set messages were activated on identified VMS on the routes leading to the Clackmannanshire Bridge.
These levels are:
Level 1 – Wind speed is greater than 35mph but less than 50mph. At this level, road users are alerted to increased wind speeds.
Level 2 – Wind Speed is greater than 50mph but less than 75 mph. At this level road users are advised that Clackmannanshire Bridge is closed to high sided vehicles.
Level 3 – Wind Speed is greater than 75mph and has remained so for 15 minutes. At this level road users are advised that Clackmannanshire Bridge is closed to all vehicles.
The decision to activate the above procedure is to a certain extent subjective as it requires an assessment by the engineer on call as to whether it is a rising or dropping profile. This necessitates an evaluation of data based on 15 minute periods. To clarify, there may be a variation in triggering alerts through localised circumstances. This is common to all main estuarial crossings in Scotland.
When such levels are exceeded Traffic Scotland as part of their core remit to inform the public also engage with haulage industry through both the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association, particularly in relation to a Level 2 alert. The Traffic Scotland website also contains up to date information on conditions to assist in journey planning during adverse weather conditions (in place in January 2015).
In relation to the second part of your request, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance Transport Scotland does not have the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exception applies is the decision to close the Clackmannanshire Bridge or any road in a situation of potential danger is taken by Police Scotland using powers afforded to them by the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 Section 67. This is done in conjunction with advice on conditions provided by Traffic Scotland and the Operating Company.
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 Andrew's House