27 May 2022
Request for Information – ATISN 16294
I wrote to you on 10 May regarding your request for information.
You asked for the following information in relation to the roll out of the 20 mph speed restriction throughout all of Wales –
The total expected budget costs to the Welsh Government of the implementation, purchasing costs of signage, road marking, electrical work, and any other expected costs involved with the roll out.
You have also asked for the costs for the pilot schemes beforehand and the full rollout when the Statutory Instrument comes into force in 2023 and any further costs expected beyond that date.
I can confirm that we hold the following information in relation to the first part of your request -
The following grants have been granted per local authority to complete the required works involved with the roll out:
1st Phase Settlement
Central North Cardiff
Vale of Glamorgan
St. Brides Major
Neath Port Talbot
For the second part of your request I consider this information to be exempt from disclosure due to the engagement of Reg12(4)(d), material in the course of completion, unfinished documents and incomplete data of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs). Full reasoning for applying this regulation can be seen at Annex A below.
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.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,
However, please note that the Commissioner will not normally investigate a complaint until it has been through our own internal review process.
Reg12(4)(d) - material in the course of completion, unfinished documents and incomplete data
This Annex sets out the reasons for the engagement of Reg12(4)(d), material in the course of completion, unfinished documents and incomplete data of the EIRs and our subsequent consideration of the Public Interest Test.
‘Environmental information’ is defined in the Regulations as (inter alia) information on measures (including administrative measures), such as policies, legislation, plans, programmes, environmental agreements, and activities affecting or likely to affect the state of the elements of the environment, such as air and atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape and natural sites, and also factors such as substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste likely to affect the state of the elements of the environment above.
In the recent Court of Appeal decision in The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy v The Information Commissioner and Alex Henney, it was held that the statutory definition of ‘environmental information’ does not mean that the information itself must be intrinsically environmental. They confirmed it is well established that the term “environmental information” in the Directive is to be given a broad meaning and that the intention of the Community’s legislature was to avoid giving that concept a definition which could have had the effect of excluding from the scope of that directive any of the activities engaged in by the public authorities.
As the roll out of the 20 mph speed restriction is a policy/plan likely to affect the environment, and as the information requested relates to the potential implementation of such a measure, then it falls within the definition set out in the Regulations.
The information requested is being withheld under Reg12(4)(d). This states:
12.—(4) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that—
(d) the request relates to material which is still in the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data
Guidance from the Information Commissioner has confirmed that “Material which is still in the course of completion can include information created as part of the process of formulating and developing policy, where the process is not complete; draft documents are unfinished even if the final version has been produced; data that is being used or relied on at the time of the request is not incomplete, even if it may be modified later”. I can confirm that this is the case with the information you have requested. It is the intention to publish all the information by the end of June once the Statutory Instrument relating to this subject has been laid.
Regulation 12(4)(d) is a qualified (public interest tested) exception. Even if the exception is engaged, public authorities must go on to apply the public interest test set out in regulation 12(1)(b). A public authority can only withhold the information if the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. Because of this, consideration has been given to the effects of disclosure to the world at large rather than any personal interest you may have in being provided with the information.
Public Interest Test
The Welsh Government acknowledges the presumption in favour of disclosure under Regulation 12(2) and we acknowledge there is a public interest in openness and transparency within Government, particularly in terms of ensuring transparent and accountable government by disclosing how the Welsh Government utilises its resources, spends public money and that both are invested wisely on behalf of the people of Wales.
As outlined above, the Welsh Government has committed to publishing all of the information on its website, once it is complete. At that time, it will be published in a co-ordinated manner, with supporting contextual narrative, to all people at the same time. An accelerated release of incomplete material will result in inaccurate and incomplete information being disclosed prematurely, thus misleading the public.
I do not think it is in the public interest to release incomplete data prematurely. Rather, I believe the public interest would be best served if the information were released following the public consultation, to all people at the same time, together with supporting contextual narrative following the public exhibition.
To conclude, the Welsh Government believes the balance of public interest to withhold the information outweighs the public interest to release it for the reasons outlined above. The information has therefore been withheld under Regulation 12(4)(d) of the EIRs.