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Publication - FOI/EIR release

Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route: Balmedie to Tipperty Project: EIR release

Published: 12 Jun 2018

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

Published:
12 Jun 2018
Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route: Balmedie to Tipperty Project: EIR release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01181
Date received: 19 April 2018
Date responded: 11 June 2018

Information requested

Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route/Balmedie to Tipperty (AWPR/B-T) Project

'I would like to request the following information under Freedom of Information legislation:

1. Any written correspondence and emails relating to the AWPR project.

2. Minutes of Ministerial meetings relating to the AWPR project and details of when these were held.

3. The original construction programme for the AWPR project at post-tender and the current construction programme for the AWPR.'

Your request has subsequently been clarified as follows:

1. Correspondence relating to the completion date of the AWPR or any letters/emails which reference changes to the planned completion date between Ministers, Transport Scotland and Aberdeen Roads Ltd.

2. Minutes of Ministerial meetings relating to the AWPR project and details of when these were held within the last 18 months.

3. The original construction programme for the AWPR project at post-tender and the current construction programme for the AWPR.'

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.

1. An exception under regulation 10(5)(e) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to confidentiality of commercial or industrial information) applies to the information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the confidentiality of industrial information provided by Aberdeen Roads Limited, the contractor for the project, and thus cause substantial harm to their interests. Release of this information is likely to prejudice substantially the commercial interests of Scottish Ministers in light of the commercial deal in place with ARL for the delivery of the project and would, or would likely to, prejudice substantially the confidentiality of commercial information provided by ARL. Disclosure of this information may give advantages to competitors in future similar tendering exercises.

Notwithstanding this, reference to project completion is made within the contract for the project which can be found on the Transport Scotland website at the following link: https://www.transport.gov.scot/publication/aberdeen-western-peripheral-route-contract-documentation/

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 relating to the completion of the project, as part of open and transparent government. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the industrial interests of companies which enter into contracts with the Scottish Ministers.

2. Transport Scotland does not hold the minutes of any ministerial meetings relating to the AWPR/B-T project. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance Transport Scotland does not have the information you have requested. Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), Transport Scotland is not required to provide information which it does not have.

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. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in minutes of ministerial meetings, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

Transport Scotland have been represented at the following ministerial meetings relating to major infrastructure projects, within the last 18 months. Please note that not all of these meetings were solely to discuss the AWPR/B-T project:

Year Month Date
2016 November 2nd, 9th
December 5th, 8th, 20th
2017 January 12th
February 9th
March 1st, 9th, 16th 27th
April 13th
May 11th
June 13th
July 13th
August 9th, 10th
September 5th, 14th
October 5th, 26th
November 9th
December 12th, 14th
2018 January 11th, 17th, 18th
February 1st, 6th, 8th, 16th
March 1st, 8th, 13th
April 12th, 18th

3. An exception under regulation 10(5)(e) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to confidentiality of commercial or industrial information) applies to the information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the confidentiality of industrial information provided by Aberdeen Roads Limited, the contractor for the project, and thus cause substantial harm to their interests. Release of this information is likely to prejudice substantially the commercial interests of Scottish Ministers in light of the commercial deal in place with ARL for the delivery of the project and would, or would likely to, prejudice substantially the confidentiality of commercial information provided by ARL. Disclosure of this information may give advantages to competitors in future similar tendering exercises.

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, and to help account for the delay damages. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the industrial interests of companies which enter into contracts with the Scottish Ministers.

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