FOI reference: FOI/17/01813
Date received: 4 August 2017
Date responded: 4 September 2017
A copy of the landowner's full response in order that we can explore next steps. Which is in relation to the Community Right to Buy application to register an interest in land at Kinlochard (case reg CB00215).
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.
An exception under regulation 10(5)(f) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to interests of person who provided the information) applies to some of the information you have requested (the option agreement). This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the interests of the landowner who provided that information to the Scottish Government and the other 3rd party named in the document. The landowner:
is not under any legal obligation to give us that information;
did not supply it in circumstances in which it could, apart from the EIRs, be made available; and
both parties have not consented to disclosure.
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 a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the interests of anyone, such as the person who provides the Scottish Government with information on a confidential basis or any 3rd person named in any information. Disclosing such information against the express wishes of the stakeholders is likely to undermine their trust in the Government and make them reluctant in future to share information with us on issues such as land reform, any future Community Right to Buy applications or other business development related engagement. This would significantly impair the Scottish Government's ability to develop policies and make decisions on the basis of fully informed advice and evidence. This would not be in the public interest.
We are releasing the covering letter received and letters covering releasing land from the option agreement. However, it has been redacted because it contains personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998.
We can confirm the following:
- The option over the land was entered into in October 2016.
Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, where an option exists, the owner is required to inform Scottish Ministers of the expiry date and whether the agreement is capable of being extended.
The expiry date is 15 years after being agreed.
The agreement can be extended for a further 60 months upon request.
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