26 May 2022
Request for Information - ATISN 16240 – Meetings with Water Companies
Thank you for your request which I received on 8 April 2022. You asked for:
- The number of in-person and online meetings that have been held between the Welsh government and water companies over the past five years.
- The minutes of each meeting.
You clarified via email that you would like information on wastewater and sewage.
From my preliminary assessment, I estimate that it will cost more than the appropriate limit set out in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 to answer your request. The appropriate limit specified for central government is £600. This represents the estimated cost of it taking over 24 hours of time to determine whether we hold the information and to thereafter locate, retrieve and extract it.
As we do not hold a central record of meetings, in order to provide you with the information that you have requested it would require me to search through the calendar diaries for all colleagues in the Welsh Government’s Water Policy Branch who work on environmental water quality standards policy or industry regulation policy just to identify all such meetings, which take place on a regular basis for a number of different reasons.
I have performed this task covering one year for one individual. I identified a total of 73 possible relevant meetings that took place with at least one individual from Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water. This search took approximately one hour. I therefore estimate that undertaking the same search for 4 additional officials from the Water Policy Branch covering the last 5 years would total approximately 20 hours.
Identifying whether any records of the meeting are held would likely take longer again. Having located where information may be held, I would need to ask officials to extract the information, which would require the review of relevant files. This is a manual process that would necessitate reading the minutes or records of meetings to see whether information is in scope. Based on my sample of 73 possible meetings, at not less than 15 minutes per file, I estimate that this represents another 18 hours of work, which would then need to be extended over a five year period and for an additional 4 officials. Even allowing for the removal of duplicates with the other officials, this work would take us very significantly over the 24 hour limit.
Consequently, I am unable to provide you with the information you have requested.
You may wish to refine your request by narrowing its scope even further by being more specific about what information you particularly wish to obtain, including any dates or period of time relevant to the information required. In this case it would be particularly helpful if you could provide us with some understanding of what type of information you are seeking, or the kind of meetings you are interested in, so that we could target the request to the appropriate policy division. If you do refine your request in this way, this will be treated as a new request.
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,
or Email: Freedom.email@example.com
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,
However, please note that the Commissioner will not normally investigate a complaint until it has been through our own internal review process.