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11 February 2022
Request for Information – ATISN 15713
I wrote to you on 1 and 17 December and 7 February regarding your request for information.
- Copies of all notes or minutes of meetings attended by officials and representatives of Welsh Government and its agencies, including all correspondence, notes or reports exchanged between the Welsh Government and the applicant, his agents or others such as Carmarthenshire County Council since 8 December 2016 regarding planning applications for a Free Range Poultry Unit on the Land North of Glanmyddyfi near Llandeilo SA19 6SD, Carmarthenshire County Council reference E/30659, E/34266, E/37351 and currently PL/01009.
- Copies of all reports submitted to or by Welsh Government officials and representatives as outlined above in relation to the same application since 8 December 2016.
- Copies of all correspondence (to include letters, e-mails and any other written and/or electronic communications or messages) to, from or between Welsh Government officials and representatives as outlined above in relation to the same application since 8 December 2016.
I apologise for the delay in responding to you. I can confirm the Welsh Government holds information caught by your request. As this request relates to planning matters I have considered the request under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs). A copy of the information I have decided to release is enclosed.
I have decided that some of the information however, is exempt from disclosure under Regulation 13 - Personal Data, of the Environmental Information Regulations, and is therefore withheld. The reasons for applying these exceptions are set out in full at Annex A to this letter.
If you are dissatisfied with the Welsh Government’s handling of your request, you can ask for an internal review within 40 working days of the date of this response. Requests for an internal review should be addressed to the Welsh Government’s Freedom of Information Officer at: Information Rights Unit, Welsh Government, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ or Email: Freedom.firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember to quote the ATISN reference number above.
You also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. However, please note that the Commissioner will not normally investigate a complaint until it has been through our own internal review process.
Reasons for Withholding Information
I have decided to withhold the following information:
|Information being withheld
|Regulation number and exception name
|Names of officials of Welsh Government, Carmarthenshire Council and others
|Regulation 13 – Personal Data
|Collision investigation requests and reports included in emails between Welsh Government officials.
|Regulation 13 – Personal Data
Regulation 13 - Personal Data
Regulation 13 of the EIRs sets out an exception from the right to know if the information requested is personal information protected by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). Personal data is defined in the GDPR as:
“any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person”.
We have concluded that, in this instance, the information in relation to names of Welsh Government officials and a Carmarthenshire Council worker amounts to personal data. Under Regulation 13 of the EIRs, personal data is exempt from release if disclosure would breach one of the data protection principles set out in Article 5 of the GDPR. We consider the principle being most relevant in this instance as being the first. This states that personal data must be:
“processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject”
Guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (Personal information (section 40 and regulation 13) v 1.3) states (at p11):
- The starting point is to consider whether it would be fair to the data subject to disclose their personal data. The key considerations in assessing this are set out in the section on Fairness below.
- If disclosure would not be fair, then the information is exempt from disclosure.
This approach was endorsed by the Court of Appeal in the case of Deborah Clark v the Information Commissioner and East Hertfordshire District Council where it was held:
“The first data protection principle entails a consideration of whether it would be fair to disclose the personal data in all the circumstances. The Commissioner determined that it would not be fair to disclose the requested information and thus the first data protection principle would be breached. There was no need in the present case therefore to consider whether any other Schedule 2 condition or conditions could be met because even if such conditions could be established, it would still not be possible to disclose the personal data without breaching the DPA” (paragraph 63).
The personal information contained in the information we hold amounts to the personal data of Welsh Government officials, a Carmarthenshire Council worker, and the signature of a Roger Parry & Partners worker.
This Welsh Government officials and Carmarthenshire Council worker do not have openly public facing roles and would not expect their names or contact details to be released in this context. We believe that they would have no expectation that this information would be made public. Whilst the letter from Roger Parry & Partners is being released to you, we have redacted the employee’s signature, as requested by the company due to it being personal data. We believe release of this information would be unfair and so breach the first data protection principle.
Please note that personal information included in the documents we are releasing to you has been redacted for reasons above. The information is being withheld under Regulation 13 of the EIRs. This is an absolute exemption and not subject to the public interest test.
In addition to the above, and along with documents regarding the planning application itself, there are some attachments to the documents that provide detail regarding collision investigations. It is not clear that the request intended to capture this detail, but we have judged that it is likely captured under the wording of point 1 of the request.
The information consists of requests for and reports on police recorded personal injury collisions on the section of road in the vicinity of the application. Release of this information would be release to the world, and not just the applicant. The information contains personal data which is also being withheld under regulation 13. There is sufficient detail in these reports to marry the information with identifying information in the public domain. Personal information is information about a living individual that can be identified through that data. Guidance from the ICO states:
It’s important to be aware that information you hold may indirectly identify an individual and therefore can still be personal data. If so, this means that the information is subject to the UK GDPR.
Because the information captured contains sensitive personal data about individuals who can be indirectly identified as being the data subjects, release of this data would be unfair processing under GDPR, and so the information is being withheld.
However, please use the link below to access the Welsh Government Transport Stats where we publish personal injury collision data on an interactive map in a suitably anonymised form. Police recorded road accidents: