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Freedom of Information request

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we might not be able to answer your information request within its statutory timescale. The council has legislative duties to respond to this emergency and we are working hard to make sure that resources are focused on delivering and supporting essential services. As responding to information requests could divert key staff from delivering and supporting essential services, we would appreciate at this time if you could please consider whether your request is urgent at this time or whether it could wait until the pandemic resolves.

The law gives everybody a right to access all recorded information held by the council. This is called Freedom of Information or FOI. Anyone can use this right, and information can only be withheld where Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) expressly permits it.

View our the Scottish Information Commissioner's guidance on making an FOI request (pdf 91KB) and FOI review process.

You can submit an FOI request using our online form, by email to foi@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or in paper. Paper request should be sent to:

Freedom of Information
Aberdeenshire Council
Woodhill House
Westburn Road
Aberdeen AB16 5GB

View privacy notice relating to FOI requests (pdf 537KB).

Make an FOI request

Publication scheme

Section 23 of FOISA requires that all Scottish public authorities maintain a publication scheme. A publication scheme sets out the types of information that a public authority routinely makes available. Publication schemes are high level, strategic documents in which a public authority commits to making published information reasonably available to the general public. This ensures that published information held by authorities is open, accountable and transparent at all times.

We have adopted the Scottish Information Commissioner's Model Publication Scheme, which is based on the best practice developed by Scottish public authorities and the Commissioner since 2004. 

This scheme has been approved by the Commissioner, who is responsible for enforcing FOISA. We are required to review the scheme from time to time.

By adopting the model we make a commitment to publish all the information we hold which falls within the classes of information in the scheme. View our guide to information to find out more.

Environmental Information Request

Alongside FOISA, the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIR) provide a separate right of access to environmental information that we hold. This publication scheme also contains details of the environmental information that we routinely make available. The council is obliged to publish a schedule of fees (pdf 65KB) and information on circumstances in which a fee may be charged, waived or required to be paid in advance for information requested under the Environmental Information Regulations.

Fees and charges

Regulation 8(8)(a) of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations (2004) requires the council to make a schedule of fees available to the public detailing circumstances in which a fee may be charged, waived or required to be paid in advance. The following is the procedure for charging for EIRs and the basis of these costs.

Aim

To recover in full the actual cost to the council of providing information requested under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations (2004).

Procedure

On receipt of a valid request under EIR we will log the request in our management system and will allocate it to the appropriate service to deal with. The timescales for responding to the request start as soon as we receive the request.

The service receiving the request will identify the information required and will quantify the time and cost it will take to provide the information.

A fee notice will be issued to the applicant requesting payment.

At this point the clock for processing the request will be stopped.

The applicant has 60 days to pay. Electronic payment or card payment will only be accepted.

On receipt of the payment the clock will be restarted, and the request will be processed within the statutory timescales, 20 days or 40 days depending on the complexity of the request.

If the payment is not received within 60 days or the applicant refuses to pay the request will be closed.

Basis of Costs

The costs to be charged will be based on the actual costs to the council of:

  • locating, retrieving and assembling the information
  • copying or scanning of hard copies of documents
  • redacting personal data as appropriate
  • converting the information into the preferred format
  • printing, if hard copy is required
  • postage, if hard copy is required or if the data can only be provided on disc

The labour cost element will be based on the estimated time taken charged at the officer’s hourly rate plus appropriate on-costs.

All fees must be paid in advance.

Waivers

We may elect to waive all or part of the fee for the following reasons:

  • if satisfied that there is a genuine and widespread public interest in the publication of the information in question, this is unlikely to be the case where a request appears to be driven by commercial interests or is highly specific in terms of focus or geographical area
  • if the information requested consists of a mixture of environmental and non-environmental information, and the non-environmental information would not be subject to a fee in terms of the FOI legislation

Re-use of public sector information

The Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations came into force in 2005 which make it easier to re-use information the council has produced. Find out more about making a re-use of public sector information request.