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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Improving journey times between Aberdeen and Central Belt: EIR release

Published: 31 Aug 2017

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/01799
Date received: 3 Aug 2017
Date responded: 29 Aug 2017

Information requested

What are the options being considered by the Aberdeen to Central Belt Reference Group for improving journey times and capacity between Aberdeen and the Central Belt, including all options under consideration for improvements on the stretch of single track at Usan Junction and South Esk Viaduct, and all options which would result in this stretch of single track remaining in place?

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.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because of exceptions under regulations 10(4) (d) (material in the course of completion) and regulation 10 (4) (e) (internal communications). The reasons why these exceptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

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 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 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 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 the information you have requested because it relates to internal exchanges 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:
31 Aug 2017
Improving journey times between Aberdeen and Central Belt: EIR release