FOI reference: FOI/18/01933
Date received: 13 July 2018
Date responded: 2 August 2018
Full and complete details of the most recent, and approved by TS, estimate of traffic, split between light and heavy (HGV), that will continue to use the A96 within Elgin (defined as within the footprint of the non-bypassed area) once your proposed new road is built, including a list outlining all the traffic survey and any other data on which this is based.
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.
Transport Scotland is progressing the route options assessment process (Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) Stage 2 assessment) for the A96 Dualling Hardmuir to Fochabers scheme with a view it identifying a preferred option later this year. At this stage in the assessment process it is currently unknown where the proposed road will be built. As part of the DMRB Stage 2 assessment, work is on-going on the traffic and economic assessment of each option. Traffic estimates, including flows on new links and flow changes on the existing network, will be available once the DMRB Stage 2 route options assessment has been completed and the DMRB Stage 2 Report published, which is expected later this year. In the meantime I have provided existing available data to prepare a response to your request and these are attached at Annexes A and B.
The proportion of existing A96 traffic that terminates in Elgin can be quantified by examination of origin destination data captured in roadside interview surveys undertaken on 30th April 2013. Of all car and light goods vehicle drivers interviewed at the eastbound layby between Brodie and Alves some 62% had destinations within Elgin (as defined as being within the alignments being considered for northern and southern bypasses). Of westbound drivers interviewed at the Moss of Barmuckity layby immediately to the east of the town some 76% terminated within Elgin. The corresponding proportions for Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers (HGVs) destined for Elgin were 47% at the eastbound site and 34% at the westbound site.
Although the DMRB Stage 2 traffic and economic assessment is not yet complete, our initial estimates for the year 2030 predict that between approximately 13,300 vehicles (including 1,700 light goods vehicles (LGVs) and 400 HGVs) and 17,500 vehicles (including 1,800 LGVs and 500 HGVs) will use the existing A96 in Elgin per day. In this context, it is expected that traffic flows in Elgin in 2030 without the dualled A96 in place will be between approximately 18,400 vehicles (including 2,600 LGVs and 1,300 HGVs) and 21,600 vehicles (including 3,300 LGVs and 1,600 HGVs) per day.
It is important to note that the DMRB Stage 2 traffic and economic assessment is on-going and above traffic information is the latest available draft and has not been approved by Transport Scotland as per your request. This information has been provided to assist you at this time. The traffic figures used for assessment purposes during the DMRB Stage 2 Assessment will be finalised and reported in the DMRB Stage 2 Report which is currently expected to be published later this year.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exception(s) under regulation(s) of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why that exception(s) applies are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
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. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the interests of the private individuals and/ or employees of companies who provided that information to the Scottish Government. They:
were 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
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 (namely the addresses, contact details, places of employment/ business and vehicle registration numbers) of private individuals and/ or employees of companies who provided the Scottish Government with information on a confidential basis.
Disclosing such information against the express wishes of the stakeholder is likely to undermine their trust in the Government and make them reluctant in future to share information with us on issues such as traffic flow questionnaires. 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.
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 Andrews House