Dear Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited,

I make this request under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Ltd is wholly owned by the London Borough of Sutton and therefore under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Please provide, by email and in PDF format, the communications between Barratts and SDEN (including its staff and consultants) up to and including 31 December 2017. The communications should include, but not be limited to, minutes of meetings, records of telephone calls, letters and emails.

The information requested is environmental because the Sutton Decentralised Energy Network (SDEN) claims to have environmental objectives such as to “maximise efficiency” (https://sden.org.uk/how-it-works/), to use “low carbon heat” (https://sden.org.uk/) in order to reduce the need for fossil fuels (https://sden.org.uk/) and be “sustainable” (https://sden.org.uk/). The claimed objectives of the company are therefore environmental in nature and the company’s actions, in so far as they comply with the company objectives, are covered by the EIR. Furthermore, the communications between SDEN and Barratts up to and including 31 December 2017 had significant environmental consequences because:

1. They determined whether the energy network (with the anticipated environmental benefits) would go ahead as planned.
2. They can be expected to significantly impact whether it would be possible to extend the energy network in the future to both other sources of energy and other energy consumers.
3. They would greatly impact the amount of any short-term heat that may be necessary prior to the heat network being operational, and therefore the environmental impact of the provision of that heat (e.g. emissions from gas boilers).
4. They would influence the amount of any future top-up heat that may be necessary from time to time, and therefore also the environmental impact of the provision of that heat (e.g. emissions of gas-fired boilers).
5. They would affect the resulting agreement between the developer and SDEN (and therefore also the Council as owner of SDEN) on such matters as the ownership and maintenance of aspects of the heat network and heat exchangers. These matters too can be expected to have efficiency and environmental impacts.
6. Whether the Felnex planning development would go ahead (with the impacts of that development on the environment).

Given the public ownership of Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Ltd, the significant environmental consequences of the discussions with the developer and the significant public interest in SDEN, the release of the requested information is in the public interest.

Yours faithfully,

D Mudge

SDEN contactus, Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited

Dear D Mudge,
Thank you for your email.  Please could you submit your request to:
[1][email address].
Kind regards,
Deborah
SDEN Customer Services Team
020 8770 4852
[2][SDEN request email] / [3][email address]
9am-5pm Mondays to Fridays
[4]www.sden.org.uk
[5]Sutton Council

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Deborah,

Thanks for your email.

I appreciate that Sutton Council ultimately owns SDEN, but my request concerns information held by SDEN not Sutton Council. It does not seem correct for information requests concerning SDEN to be sent to the Sutton Council FOI email address, because it is SDEN (not Sutton Council) that should reply. Sutton Council may not consider themselves to be legally responsible for replying to SDEN information requests.

Whilst SDEN may have arrangements for Sutton Council to respond to information requests on SDEN's behalf, it would still be SDEN who would be legally responsible for ensuring compliance with information regulations. Sutton Council may also hold information on SDEN's behalf but, again, it would be SDEN's responsibility to ensure that it has arrangements with Sutton Council for information requests to be answered in accordance with the regulations. Would you mind forwarding my request to Sutton Council if that is how SDEN deals with information requests? It is then clear that SDEN has taken responsibility for responding to my request.

Thanks you for your help. I look forward to receiving the information I have requested either from SDEN or from Sutton Council on SDEN's behalf.

Yours sincerely,

D. Mudge

SDEN contactus, Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited

Dear D Mudge,
Thank you for your email.  I can confirm that SDEN is wholly owned by
Sutton Council and as such, there are formal procedures that must be
adhered to.  For FOI matters, all enquiries must be directed to Sutton
Council's FOI officer for processing and I have previously provided you
with the relevant contact details to enable you to do this. I apologise if
this appears pedantic.
Please be assured that once Sutton council have received your enquiry, it
will be dealt with in a full and comprehensive manner.
Kind regards,
Deborah
SDEN Customer Services Team
020 8770 4852
[1][SDEN request email] / [2][email address]
9am-5pm Mondays to Fridays
[3]www.sden.org.uk
[4]Sutton Council

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear SDEN,

Thank you for your reply.

I appreciate you may following a "formal procedure", but your email does not indicate what procedures you consider must be followed nor where they may be found. I can also find no mention of FOI/EIR procedures on SDEN's website. Please let me know where I can find the formal procedures that you consider you are obliged to follow.

I have submitted my request to Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited (SDEN) in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations. The ICO state say that a request does not have to be directed to a specific member of staff and says requests should not be refused because they are not addressed to the correct person (see https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui...

As previously explained, I believe it is SDEN that should respond to my request (not SDEN's owner, Sutton Council). I have, however, informed [email address] of my request to SDEN since SDEN requested that I contact the Sutton FOI email address. Sutton Council can then assist SDEN with responding to my request if they wish to do so. (See below for the email sent.)

In the event that Sutton Council has arrangements with SDEN to respond to information requests on SDEN's behalf, please ensure that any response to my request makes it clear that the information provided shows relevant information held by SDEN (if any) as well as relevant information held by Sutton Council on SDEN's behalf (if any).  My request requires such information to be included and so a response that only shows information held by Sutton Council is not sufficient.

At present, I understand SDEN's position to be a refusal of my request.  I intend to refer the matter to the ICO unless I receive confirmation within 72 hours that my information request sent to SDEN has been accepted. I hope it will not be necessary to involve the ICO.

Thank you for your assistance with my request.

Yours faithfully,

D Mudge

----------------------
Email sent to [email address]:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to inform you of my EIR request to Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited (SDEN) which can be found at:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

My request is to SDEN rather than Sutton Council.  I write to you only because SDEN requested that I do so.  

In the event that Sutton Council has arrangements with SDEN to respond to information requests on SDEN's behalf, please ensure that any response to my request makes it clear that the information provided shows relevant information held by SDEN (if any) as well as relevant information held by Sutton Council on SDEN's behalf (if any).  My request requires such information to be included and so a response that only shows information held by Sutton Council is not sufficient.

At present, I understand SDEN's position to be a refusal of my request.  I intend to refer the matter to the ICO unless I receive confirmation within 72 hours that my information request to SDEN has been accepted. I hope it will not be necessary to involve the ICO.

Your faithfully,

D Mudge

Dear Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Environmental Information Regulations reviews.

I understand the response sent on 5 January 2022 to mean that Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited is refusing to answer my request and instead wants me to direct my request to Sutton Council. My request, however, is to Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited, so I do not consider this to be Sutton Decentralised Energy Network responding to my request in accordance with the regulations. I have sent an email to the Sutton Council address as requested but I have not received a reply.

I am writing to request an internal review of Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited's handling of my FOI request 'EIR Request: Communications with Barratts'. I would be grateful if you would let me know whether Sutton Decentralised Network Limited intends to provide a response to my review request.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

Yours faithfully,

D Mudge

SDEN contactus, Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited

Dear D Mudge,
Thank you for your email.  I can confirm that your request for information
has been received and a response is currently in progress.
 
Kind regards,
SDEN Customer Services Team
020 8770 4852
[1][SDEN request email] / [2][email address]
9am-5pm Mondays to Fridays
[3]www.sden.org.uk
[4]Sutton Council

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear SDEN,

SDEN's response to my internal review request (sent on 21 January 2022) regarding my information request (sent on 5 January 2022) is overdue. Please let me know the reason for the delay and when I can expect the results of SDEN's review.

With thanks,

D Mudge

SDEN contactus, Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited

Dear D Mudge,
Thank you for your email. Your enquiry is being dealt with by the Freedom
Of Information Officer and thus I have copied them in here, accordingly.
 
Kind regards,
Deborah
SDEN Customer Services Team
020 8770 4852
[1][SDEN request email] / [2][email address]
9am-5pm Mondays to Fridays
[3]www.sden.org.uk
[4]Sutton Council

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Data Protection Officer,

Dear Mr Mudge,

I am contacting you with regard to the complaint you made to the ICO
concerning the lack of response to your enquiry to SDEN/Sutton Council.

First of all, I would like to apologise that you have not received a
response to the FOI you submitted to SDEN directly on 05 January 2022.

Looking at the correspondence between yourself and SDEN, I can see that
there were a number of emails between both parties about whether it was
SDEN's or the Council's responsibility to log, assign and respond to your
request.  I regret to say that it would appear neither SDEN nor the
Council logged your request.

I have been liaising with SDEN with regard to this outstanding request. 
In order for the service to provide the information your are seeking, I
would be grateful if you could stipulate/clarify the start date for the
following request you submitted:-

Please provide, by email and in PDF format, the communications between
Barratts and SDEN (including its staff and consultants) up to and
including 31 December 2017. The communications should include, but not be
limited to, minutes of meetings, records of telephone calls, letters and
emails.

Once you have confirmed this, I will ensure that your request is dealt
with as swiftly as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Karen Fenwick

Information Governance Officer

--
Information Governance Team
serving Kingston and Sutton Council
Disclaimers apply, for full details see : 
(https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200436/cu...)

Dear Karen,

Thank you for your email.

Please provide the requested information from the date SDEN was incorporated, i.e. 23 February 2016.

I look forward to receiving the information and thank you for ensuring my request will be dealt with quickly.

Yours sincerely,

D Mudge

Dear Mr Mudge,

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 - Ref No - FOIS1912  (ICO Ref:
IC-161349-Z9C6)

 

I refer to your request for information concerning SDEN and Communications
with Barratts.

Your request was as follows:-

Dear Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited,

I make this request under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Ltd is wholly owned by the London
Borough of Sutton and therefore under the Environmental Information
Regulations 2004.

Please provide, by email and in PDF format, the communications between
Barratts and SDEN (including its staff and consultants) from 23 February
2016 up to and including 31 December 2017. The communications should
include, but not be limited to, minutes of meetings, records of telephone
calls, letters and emails.

The information requested is environmental because the Sutton
Decentralised Energy Network (SDEN) claims to have environmental
objectives such as to “maximise efficiency”
([1]https://sden.org.uk/how-it-works/), to use “low carbon heat”
([2]https://sden.org.uk/) in order to reduce the need for fossil fuels
([3]https://sden.org.uk/) and be “sustainable” ([4]https://sden.org.uk/).
The claimed objectives of the company are therefore environmental in
nature and the company’s actions, in so far as they comply with the
company objectives, are covered by the EIR. Furthermore, the
communications between SDEN and Barratts up to and including 31 December
2017 had significant environmental consequences because:

1. They determined whether the energy network (with the anticipated
environmental benefits) would go ahead as planned.
2. They can be expected to significantly impact whether it would be
possible to extend the energy network in the future to both other sources
of energy and other energy consumers.
3. They would greatly impact the amount of any short-term heat that may be
necessary prior to the heat network being operational, and therefore the
environmental impact of the provision of that heat (e.g. emissions from
gas boilers).
4. They would influence the amount of any future top-up heat that may be
necessary from time to time, and therefore also the environmental impact
of the provision of that heat (e.g. emissions of gas-fired boilers).
5. They would affect the resulting agreement between the developer and
SDEN (and therefore also the Council as owner of SDEN) on such matters as
the ownership and maintenance of aspects of the heat network and heat
exchangers. These matters too can be expected to have efficiency and
environmental impacts.
6. Whether the Felnex planning development would go ahead (with the
impacts of that development on the environment).

Given the public ownership of Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Ltd, the
significant environmental consequences of the discussions with the
developer and the significant public interest in SDEN, the release of the
requested information is in the public interest.

Yours faithfully,

D Mudge

Please find the response as follows:-

The information requested is withheld because your request is considered
to be ‘manifestly unreasonable’ under the Environmental Information
Regulations, (EIR)

Responding to this request would involve carrying out a search of the
mailboxes, calendars and folders of our entire IT systems and back ups for
information that is approximately 2 years old. It would be impossible to
use clear search words therefore the return would be vast, if held at all,
and it is likely that some accounts will have been deleted where officers
have left employment. Once we have searched and located all the
information, an individual officer would then be required to read all the
information in order to identify what may fall within the scope of the
request.  

 

Under the EIRs, unlike under FOIA, there is no appropriate cost limit
above which public bodies are not required to deal with requests for
information.  However, to assist in understanding our reason for this
refusal notice, we have calculated that this is likely to take at least 75
working hours to complete which we consider to be unreasonable.

 

The EIR provides an exception for manifestly unreasonable requests
(Regulation 12(4)(b)).

 

The exception is intended to protect public authorities from exposure to a
disproportionate burden or an unjustified level of distress and disruption
in handling a request. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
guidance to this exception confirms that it can be used where the cost of
compliance with the request is too great and requires a disproportionate
diversion of resources.

 

All exceptions under the EIR are subject to the public interest test, and
the Council must apply a presumption in favour of disclosure when
considering that test. We have considered the public interest test for
both exemptions applied above:

 

Public interest factors in favour of disclosure  

• The general public interest in transparency  

• The public interest in understanding issues affecting their local community

 

Public interest factors in favour of maintaining the exception  

• The public interest in using public resources efficiently especially in the context of reduced budgets  

• Disproportionate burden on the authority  

• The public interest in not distracting officers from dealing with their core job responsibilities and diverting attention away from service delivery

 

The public interest in this instance is in favour of maintaining these
exemptions. 

If you are unhappy with the way in which your request has been handled you
have the right to ask for an internal review.  Please notify us in writing
as soon as possible with the grounds upon which you feel the appeal is
justified to : [5][email address] or by post to Information Governance
Team London Borough of Sutton

Civic Offices

St. Nicholas Way, Sutton SM1 1EA

We aim to respond to you within 20 working days of receiving your request.
If it is going to take longer we will let you know.

 

Should you still be dissatisfied with the outcome you have the right to
refer to the Information Commissioner: Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF [6]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely,

FOI Team

London Borough of Sutton
[7]www.sutton.gov.uk

The information contained in this message is confidential. It is intended
solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it is addressed and
others authorised to receive it. If the reader of this message is not the
intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any use, copying,
dissemination or disclosure of this information is strictly prohibited.

 

Disclaimers apply, for full details see : 
(https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200436/cu...)

References

Visible links
1. https://sden.org.uk/how-it-works/
2. https://sden.org.uk/
3. https://sden.org.uk/
4. https://sden.org.uk/
5. mailto:[email address]
6. http://www.ico.org.uk/
7. http://www.sutton.gov.uk/

Dear Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited,

Please acknowledge receipt of this internal review request and please pass this on to the person who conducts Environmental Information Request reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Limited's handling of my EIR request 'EIR Request: Communications with Barratts'.

The response says, when referring to the information requested, "if held at all". Am I to understand from this that SDEN is saying that it does not know if it has had communications with Barratts for the time period specified? Perhaps SDEN staff have knowledge of at least some communications with Barratts that could speed up the processing of my request? SDEN has few employees and probably even fewer for the time period relevant to my request (which starts from the date of SDEN's incorporation) so there are few people who could have had such communication.

The response says:

"It would be impossible to use clear search words therefore the return would be vast, if held at all, and it is likely that some accounts will have been deleted where officers have left employment. Once we have searched and located all the information, an individual officer would then be required to read all the information in order to identify what may fall within the scope of the request."

Since my request concerns communications that took place between Barratts and SDEN, little, if any, reading of information would be required to identify if it fell within the scope so the response to my request suggests my request may have been misunderstood.

If SDEN really has no knowledge of the email addresses that communications with Barratts may use, would a search for any emails to/from/cc the following email addresses make the search manageable?
*@wardhomes.co.uk
*@dwh.co.uk
*@*barratt*
(where ‘*’ matches anything (including nothing)). As an example, the above search would match emails sent to/from all of the following email addresses:
[email address]
[email address]
[email address]

The response which says “likely that some accounts will have been deleted” but surely SDEN should know whether it would be necessary to search deleted accounts and how many such accounts? If there are deleted accounts, whose accounts are these and what information could be gathered if these accounts were not initialled searched?

The response says:
"The exception is intended to protect public authorities from exposure to a disproportionate burden or an unjustified level of distress and disruption in handling a request. "

I have no desire to cause "a disproportionate burden or an unjustified level of distress and disruption" nor do I consider that my straight-forward request would cause distress nor disruption.

There has been considerable public interest and concern regarding SDEN. This concern was such that Sutton council (who ultimately owns SDEN) commissioning an external review by CIPFA. The operational failures and issues regarding SDEN have caused distress and disruption to residents. Any possible distress and disruption that this information request could possibly cause would be completely insignificant in comparison. Given the great public interest and SDEN issues, I do not consider the request for correspondence between SDEN and Barratts (the developer of the most likely, and only, housing development for its heat network between the dates specified) to be "disproportionate". I consider the public interest arguments in favour of disclosure incredibly strong and I also consider that knowledge held by SDEN may make my request significantly quicker to process than 75 hours.

Adopting an open, transparent approach in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations (which has a presumption of disclosure) will help build public trust and so should be considered in SDEN's best interest (and Sutton Council's too) - even if providing such information may take a little time. In contrast, adopting a secretive approach and seeking to avoid disclosure will only add to mistrust and give the impression that SDEN has things to hide. That sense of public trust in a public body (which includes SDEN) is very much in the public interest – especially when trust has been damaged.

The response says:
"The information requested is withheld because your request is considered to be ‘manifestly unreasonable’ under the Environmental Information Regulations, (EIR)."

For all the above reasons, I do not consider my request to be 'manifestly unreasonable' and request SDEN reconsider during its internal review.

Following SDEN's internal review, should SDEN still be of the view that my request is "manifestly unreasonable", the ICO says advice and assistance should be provided to “help the requester to submit a new, more manageable request”. I therefore request an online meeting with SDEN to discuss the best way for me to obtain as much of the information I have requested as possible.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

I look forward to your response and thank you in advance for your help.

Yours faithfully,

D Mudge

Dear Mr Mudge
I acknowledge your request for a review into the handling of your request
for information under our ref FOIS1912 Re: Communications with Barratts

The Information Governance team will arrange for a review of our handling
of your original request. We aim to complete this review within 20 working
days from the date of your email below. This is in accordance with the
council's FOI procedure, and in line with ICO guidance. If you remain
unhappy following the outcome of the appeal you may then refer to the
Information Commissioner's Office. 

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact the Customer Care,
London Borough of Sutton, Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton SM1 1EA
or email [1][email address]

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123 1113
[2]www.ico.org.uk
Yours Sincerely

FOI Team

London Borough of Sutton
Civic Offices
St. Nicholas Way, Sutton SM1 1EA

[3]www.sutton.gov.uk

Follow us on [4]LinkedIn | [5]Twitter | [6]Facebook

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Data Protection Officer,

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Mudge,
Please find attached the Internal Review of FOI1912, SDEN Communications
with Barratt.
Kind regards,
--
Information Governance Team
serving Kingston and Sutton Council
Disclaimers apply, for full details see : 
(https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200436/cu...)