This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Queen Adelaide Survey Procurement Support Documentation'.




 
 
 
Network Rail  
 
Freedom of Information 
The Quadrant  
Elder Gate 
Milton Keynes  
MK9 1EN 
 
01908 782405 
E [Network Rail request email] 
 
Mr R Moss-Eccardt 
By email: [FOI #378559 email] 
 
 
 
10 March 2017 
 
 
Dear Mr Moss-Eccardt 
 
 
Internal review reference: FOI2017/00060 
Original request reference: FOI2016/01418 
 
I am writing in response to your email of 15 January 2017, where you asked for an 
internal review of the handling of your information request FOI2016/01418.  
 
I have separated this review into two sections: the first sets out the history of the 
request and appeal; the second part contains my decision in this case.  
 
Request history 
 
On 21 December 2016, you made the following request: 
 
Cambridgeshire County Council are currently considering closure of level crossings on the 
B1382 in Queen Adelaide. 
 
They refer to a number of documents in their RFQ for the consultants involved. These are 
 
• Risk Assessment of Strategic Options for Ely North Junction (Nov 2015)  
• Suitable and Sufficient Risk Assessments  
o Queen Adelaide- Kings Lynn Level Crossing (Nov 2015)  
o Queen Adelaide- Norwich Level Crossing (Nov 2015)  
o Queen Adelaide- Peterborough Level Crossing (Nov 2015)  
• Ely Area Constraints- Draft Briefing Note (Aug 2016) 
 
I requested them from the County Council but they say they can't as they are your documents 
so I am now requesting them from you. My request to the County is here:  
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/q... 
 
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To save time, if you baldly assert commercial confidentiality I will seek an internal review.  
To help with the public interest test, this will significantly affect the lives of several residents 
and reduce property values. At the same time there is the assertion this will save lives so 
there is clearly a great deal of public interest. 
 
Network Rail logged this request as FOI2016/01418 and responded on11 January 
2017. The response confirmed that the requested information was held, but refused 
to provide the information, citing the exceptions under Regulations 12(4)(d) (material 
in the course of completion) and 12(5)(e) (confidentiality of commercial or industrial 
information).  
 
You appealed against this decision on 15 January 2017: 
 
I am writing to request an internal review of Network Rail Limited's handling of my FOI 
request 'Queen Adelaide Survey Procurement Support Documentation'. 
 
Although I acknowledge that documents in preparation can be exempt, cannot believe that 
applies to risk assessments. If the risk assessments of each of the crossings are incomplete, 
please confirm that explicitly, for each crossing. 
 
Similarly the strategic options risk assessment from 2015 - if it is still in preparation then 
providing it to inform the policy development at the County Council would make any 
proposals, for which the County is spending good money, unsafe. Again can you explicitly 
confirm that that risk assessment is incomplete and also describe what is missing or what 
makes it unsuitable.  
 
I am able to believe a document described as 'draft' is incomplete. Can you say what is 
missing in the process to no longer make it a draft, please? 
 
In summary, can you please consider each document in turn for the tests you seem to have 
applied in one go and, also, confirm for each document that it is incomplete and describe its 
current state and what would need to happen to make it complete? 
 
Decision 
 
I have now reviewed the requested information and considered the circumstances 
and factors relevant to this case. I have noted the points you have raised in your 
request for review, and I have considered these points in reaching a decision in this 
case.  
 
Following my review, I conclude that the exception under Regulation 12(4)(d) is 
engaged for the requested information, and that it is correct to continue to withhold 
that information.  
 
I will explain the reasons for my decision below. As I consider that Regulation 
12(4)(d) is engaged for all of the requested information, and your request for review 
specifically appealed the application of this exception, I have not considered 
Regulation 12(5)(e) in this review. 
 
Regulation 12(4)(d) (material in the course of completion)  
 
Regulation 12(4)(d) can be applied when the request relates to material that is in the 
course of completion, unfinished documents or incomplete data. I note that the 
Network Rail Infrastructure Limited Registered Office: Network Rail, 2nd Floor, One Eversholt Street, London, NW1 2DN Registered in England and Wales No. 2904587 www networkrail.co.uk 
 

points raised in your appeal concerns the status of the risk assessments and 
whether they are ‘unfinished’ or ‘incomplete’. However, I should explain that it is not 
necessary for information to be unfinished, incomplete and material in the course of 
completion for Regulation 12(4)(d) to be engaged – these three elements of the 
exception are entirely separate and the exception will be engaged if any one of the 
three elements applies. My colleague, Mr Bendall, correctly noted this point in his 
response to your request, where he drew attention to the following guidance from the 
Information Commissioner: 
 
Material which is still in the course of completion 
 
The fact that the exception refers to both material in the course of completion and unfinished 
documents implies that these terms are not necessarily synonymous. While a particular 
document may itself be finished, it may be part of material which is still in the course of 
completion. An example of this could be where a public authority is formulating and 
developing policy…1 
 
The Information Commissioner’s guidance further explains 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. 2  
  
I consider that Regulation 12(4)(d) applies in this case because the withheld 
information is material in the course of completion. It is not claimed that the risk 
assessments are ‘unfinished’ or ‘incomplete’; only the Ely Area Constraints 
document is marked as a ‘draft’. However, each of the documents specifically 
concerns Network Rail’s preliminary work on the identification and initial 
consideration of constraints and possible options for the future development of a part 
of the railway network – this is part of the process of formulating and developing a 
policy in this area, and is the key point in engaging Regulation 12(4)(d) here.  
 
The Information Commissioner accepts that regulation 12(4)(d) can apply to 
information which is part of the policy making process, where a specific policy in the 
process of formulation and development can be identified, and where it can be 
demonstrated that the information relates to that policy.3 To explain, the specific 
policy in development is the proposed Ely Area Capacity Enhancement scheme, 
which is intended to address a number of existing constraints on rail capacity in the 
Ely area. Included in the scope of the scheme are headway reductions, the doubling 
of Ely North Junction, track layout changes at Ely, bridge strengthening and level 
crossings. The Queen Adelaide level crossings are a fundamental constraint on 
freight and passenger capacity, as well as journey time, over the cross-country 
corridor via Ely between Norwich, Ipswich and Peterborough, and the West Anglia 
Main Line for services from Liverpool Street station and Kings Cross. The Queen 
Adelaide crossings therefore form one of a number of interdependent elements 
within this wider scheme.  
 
                                                 
1 The Information Commissioner’s guidance on this exception can be found on this link: 
https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1637/eir material in the course of completion.pdf 
 2 See Footnote 1. 
 
3 ICO Decision Notice FER0641545, para. 66 
 
Network Rail Infrastructure Limited Registered Office: Network Rail, 2nd Floor, One Eversholt Street, London, NW1 2DN Registered in England and Wales No. 2904587 www networkrail.co.uk 
 

As such, the withheld information is clearly closely related to the ongoing process of 
formulating and developing the specific policy in respect of the future of the 
crossings and the broader Ely Area Capacity Enhancement scheme, as each of the 
documents concerns details and initial considerations in respect of constraints and 
possible options for those crossings. It is particularly important to note that the 
withheld information does not contain any decision about what options may go forward 
for further consideration; rather, this information represents an extremely early point in 
a process which is still ongoing at the present time, and which is expected to continue 
to develop over a period of time before any selection of agreed options can take place.  
 
Following the Information Commissioner’s guidance, I conclude that the withheld 
information is indeed ‘information created as part of the process of formulating and 
developing policy, where the process is not complete’. On this basis, I consider that 
the withheld information is material in the course of completion, and that regulation 
12(4)(d) applies.  
 
The public interest test 
 
This exception is subject to a public interest test to determine whether the public 
interest favours disclosure of the information or maintaining the exception.  
 
I consider that the factors in favour of disclosure are that there is a general 
presumption in favour of disclosure, and I agree that disclosure in this case would 
demonstrate accountability and transparency in the decision-making process; there 
is also a recognised public interest in providing information which sheds light on the 
future of the Queen Adelaide crossings, particularly for those who would be affected 
by any changes to the crossings. However, disclosure in this case cannot inform the 
public on the future of the crossings, as the options contained in the withheld 
information are not yet sufficient developed to provide information on which option or 
options may progress in time, and as noted above, no decision has yet been made 
with regard to the future of the crossings. I therefore give less weight to these 
factors. 
 
In considering the public interest factors favouring maintaining the exception, I have 
referred to the Information Commissioner’s guidance, which highlights that the public 
interest arguments in respect of regulation 12(4)(d) should be focussed on the 
protection of internal deliberation and decision making processes, and that these 
arguments relate to protecting the need for a ‘private thinking space’ and preserving 
a ‘safe space’ to debate issues and develop thinking away from external scrutiny.  
 
The Information Commissioner’s guidance explains the importance of a ‘safe space’ 
or private ‘thinking space’ in which policy can be developed: 
 
The need for public authorities to have a ‘thinking space’ for policy development was 
recognised in the original proposal for the Directive4 on public access to environmental 
information, which the EIR implement. The proposal explained the rationale for both this 
exception and the exception for internal communications:  
 
                                                 
4 Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on public access to environmental information 
 
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It should also be acknowledged that public authorities should have the 
necessary space to think in private. To this end, public authorities will be 
entitled to refuse access if the request concerns material in the course of 
completion or internal communications. In each such case, the public interest 
served by the disclosure of such information should be taken into account.5 
(COM(2000) 402 final p.13)  
 
The guidance explains the importance of preserving a ‘safe space’ to debate issues 
without external scrutiny: 
 
‘49. The Commissioner accepts that a public authority needs a safe space to develop ideas, 
debate live issues, and reach decisions away from external interference and distraction. This 
may carry significant weight in some cases.  
 
50. The need for a safe space will be strongest when the issue is still live… The timing of the 
request will therefore be an important factor. This was confirmed by the Information Tribunal in 
DBERR v Information Commissioner and Friends of the Earth (EA/2007/0072, 29 April 2008): 
“This public interest is strongest at the early stages of policy formulation and development. The 
weight of this interest will diminish over time as policy becomes more certain and a decision as 
 6
to policy is made public.”’  
 
The Information Commissioner supported a similar argument for ‘safe space’ in a 
previous decision notice concerning Regulation 12(4)(d) (FS50266169): 
 
‘34. There is a need for a “safe space” to formulate policy, debate “live” issues”, and reach 
decisions without being hindered by external comment and/or media involvement...  
…Several Tribunals have accepted as valid, public interest arguments about the loss of a safe 
space, specific to the policy debate to which the information relates. This is on the basis that:  
 
    there is a public interest in preserving a “safe space” for policy formulation, and  
  that to release information relating to a particular policy, whilst that same policy is still in 
its formulation and development stages might erode that “safe space”.’ 7 
 
I consider that these arguments are very relevant to your request because, as 
described above, consideration of options for the Queen Adelaide crossings are only 
in the preliminary stages. At the time of this review, we are not yet at the stage 
where any decision about the initial options can be made, and work is currently being 
undertaken to inform the development of these options. It is therefore important to 
protect the safe space for further deliberation and consideration of the options 
currently being formulated and developed. I therefore consider that a safe and 
private space is required in order to allow Network Rail to consider and develop the 
options for the crossings, and that there is a strong public interest in protecting this 
safe space. 
 
The timing of your request is a relevant factor here due to the ‘live’ nature of these 
ongoing considerations. The Information Commissioner’s guidance advises that the 
timing of the request is particularly important in considering the public interest – if the 
process of formulating policy on the particular issue is still going on when the request 
                                                 
5 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2000:0402:FIN:EN:PDF 
 
6 https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1634/eir internal communications.pdf 
 
7 https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/decision-notices/2010/539714/FS 50266169.pdf 
 
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is received, it may be that disclosing information at a preliminary stage would make it 
difficult to bring the process to a proper conclusion. It is important here that 
information pertaining to the Queen Adelaide crossings cannot only be evaluated in 
a local context – in terms of impact on local residents – but also needs to be 
considered in terms of the crossings’ wider fundamental role in facilitating socio-
economic growth in the Anglia region, and ultimately enabling an increase in both 
freight and passenger capacity in the Anglia Route. As noted previously, the Queen 
Adelaide crossings are one of a number of elements within the broader scheme; this 
means that any distraction from the ongoing process in respect of the crossings 
would therefore have a greater effect on the wider Ely Area Capacity Enhancement 
scheme. This increases the public interest in protecting the safe space for 
deliberations to take place. 
 
In these circumstances, while there is recognised public interest in providing 
information which informs the public and Queen Adelaide residents of these initial 
considerations, it is my view that, due to the timing of the request and the position of 
the Queen Adelaide crossings within the Ely Area Capacity Enhancement scheme, 
the strongest public interest lies in protecting the safe space required for Network 
Rail and its partners to further investigate and develop options for the Queen 
Adelaide crossing and the wider scheme. 
 
On this basis, I consider that the public interest favours maintaining the exception, 
and that the requested information should be withheld at this time.  
 
I understand that this is not the response you will be hoping for, however, I do hope 
that you will find this explanation gives some further insight into our reasoning in this 
case. 
 
Should you have any further queries in relation to your request please contact me on 
the number provided above. Please quote the reference number at the top of this 
letter in all future communications. 
 
Yours sincerely 
 
Dr Lou Lander 
FOI Manager, Compliance & Appeals 
 
 
Appeal rights 
 
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to 
apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.  The Information 
Commissioner can be contacted at: 
 
Information Commissioner's Office 
Wycliffe House 
Water Lane 
Wilmslow 
Cheshire SK9 5AF 
 
Network Rail Infrastructure Limited Registered Office: Network Rail, 2nd Floor, One Eversholt Street, London, NW1 2DN Registered in England and Wales No. 2904587 www networkrail.co.uk