FOI reference: FOI/17/02773
Date received: 16 November 2017
Date responded: 19 December 2017
I would like to request information about the carbon balance of wind farms on Scottish peatland. This should include the central database that has been compiled from the carbon calculator tool, which "compares the carbon costs of wind farm developments with the carbon savings attributable to the wind farm". I would argue that this information should already be in the public domain in any case and there is certainly a clear public interest in releasing the database, especially given the huge importance of onshore wind in Scotland's energy mix.
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.
I enclose a copy of the information you requested. The database contains five sheets, with the 'chart' sheet displaying the total savings and net emissions of all section 36 applications to have used the tool. The 'chart' sheet has been created to present the collated data in a way that makes sense. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) are currently developing a reporting tool that aims to simplify this information in future.
The information contained in the database is already in the public domain, albeit not collated into a single database. Each section 36 application to have used the tool has a unique carbon calculator reference number displayed in the applications Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report. With this reference number, anyone can access the data for the wind farm.
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