Emergency Planning: Onshore gas & oil exploration & extraction

The request was refused by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

Dear Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service,

I refer to the following guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (A guide to the Borehole Sites and Operations Regulations 1995. Guidance on Regulations )

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l72.htm which states:

‘109 At the planning stage, the local Fire and Rescue Service
should be consulted on both operational fire-fighting and fire
safety matters, including provision of suitable water supplies and
access for fire appliances.

127 Escape and rescue procedures will vary according to the size
and layout of the site and the nature of operations. The emergency
services should be consulted at the planning stage so that such
matters as rescue methods, casualty handling, the need for any
decontamination zones and any special equipment can be discussed
and procedures agreed. In the case of complex sites, there may be a need to arrange for joint incident-response training exercises.’

Further to the above, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please respond to the following requests in relation to the Cuadrilla site At Preston New Road.

1) Did operators consult with you at the planning application stages / pre-planning stage, or at any time since on the following emergency response rescue methods;

a) casualty handling;
b) decontamination zones;
c) any special equipment required;
d) emergency procedures discussed and agreed between all parties;
e) water requirements for fire fighting.

Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such consultation has taken place.

2) Have any joint incident-response training exercises been discussed or taken place between operators, yourselves, United Utilities and other emergency responders? If so, who pays / has paid for this?

Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such consultation has taken place.

3) At the planning application stage or pre-planning stage, were the following points presented to you for consultation;

a) alarm systems for fire warning and fire detection;
b) alarm systems for blow-outs;
c)hydrogen sulphide (or other toxic gas) alarm systems;
d) alarm systems which are directly linked to emergency response centres;
e) emergency lighting systems and generators.

Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such consultation has taken place.

4) Are any of the points in item 3 regularly checked by you at the site? If so, how regularly?
b) What role, if any, do you /have you had in advising or supporting the HSE or company Fire Officers in 'Process (PSPs)' and 'General Safety Precautions (GSPs) ' at this site?

Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such consultation has taken place.

5) Have you ever been provided (either at planning stage or the current pre-development stage) with a list of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and / or the chemical CAS numbers of ALL chemicals proposed for use at this site?

Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such consultation has taken place.

6) With reference to chemicals listed as 'proprietary' in documents supplied to the Environment Agency, are the MSDS and chemical CAS numbers released to your service or to your knowledge, to the Fire Service through the Premises Risk Management Process?

Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such consultation has taken place.

7) During flow-testing stage of a hydraulic fracturing operation, the operator 'perforates' the well at various stages below ground. Has the Fire and Rescue Service been warned in advance that explosives / cords / detonators will be on site as would be required under the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002?

Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such consultation has taken place.

8) 'The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 has defined an emergency as - 'Any event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a place in the UK, the environment of a place in the UK, or war or terrorism which threatens serious damage to the security of the UK.'
Please advise when your next review of the necessary emergency procedures for this well site will be, OR confirm that no such review is deemed necessary.

Yours faithfully,

Helen Chuntso

DP&FOI, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

Dear Madam
 
Thank you for your email which was received on 27 July 2017, requesting
the following information:
 
1) Did operators consult with you at the planning application stages /
pre-planning stage, or at any time since on the following emergency
response rescue methods;
 
a) casualty handling;
b) decontamination zones;
c) any special equipment required;
d) emergency procedures discussed and agreed between all parties;
e) water requirements for firefighting.
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
2) Have any joint incident-response training exercises been discussed or
taken place between operators, yourselves, United Utilities and other
emergency responders? If so, who pays / has paid for this?
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
3) At the planning application stage or pre-planning stage, were the
following points presented to you for consultation;
 
a) alarm systems for fire warning and fire detection;
b) alarm systems for blow-outs;
c)hydrogen sulphide (or other toxic gas) alarm systems;
d) alarm systems which are directly linked to emergency response centres;
e) emergency lighting systems and generators.
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
4) Are any of the points in item 3 regularly checked by you at the site?
If so, how regularly?
b) What role, if any, do you /have you had in advising or supporting the
HSE or company Fire Officers in 'Process (PSPs)' and 'General Safety
Precautions (GSPs) ' at this site? 
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
5) Have you ever been provided (either at planning stage or the current
pre-development stage) with a list of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
and / or the chemical CAS numbers of ALL chemicals proposed for use at
this site?
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
6) With reference to chemicals listed as 'proprietary' in documents
supplied to the Environment Agency, are the MSDS and chemical CAS numbers
released to your service or to your knowledge, to the Fire Service through
the Premises Risk Management Process?
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
7) During flow-testing stage of a hydraulic fracturing operation, the
operator  'perforates' the well at various stages below ground. Has the
Fire and Rescue Service been warned in advance that explosives / cords /
detonators will be on site as would be required under the Dangerous
Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002?
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
8) 'The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 has defined an emergency as - 'Any
event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a
place in the UK, the environment of a place in the UK, or war or terrorism
which threatens serious damage to the security of the UK.'
Please advise when your next review of the necessary emergency procedures
for this well site will be, OR confirm that no such review is deemed
necessary.
 
 
 
Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and will be answered as soon as possible and at the
latest within 20 working days, (25 August 2017).
 
In the unlikely event that we are not able to respond within 20 working
days we will write to you to explain why and provide an anticipated
completion date.
 
In line with guidance published by the Information Commissioner’s Office,
LFRS may make a charge for the provision of information – for example in
order to cover the costs of postage (in line with the relevant postal
charges) or charges for printing and copying (which will reflect
photocopying charges levied by public libraries).
 
You will be informed if a fee is to be applied before information is to be
provided.
 
If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact the
Incident Information Officer quoting the reference number given in the
subject line of this acknowledgement.
 
Regards
 
Robert Shaw - Incident Information Officer
Corporate Programme and Intelligence
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Email: [1]dp&[email address]
SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES
Call 0800 169 1125 to book a free Home Fire Safety Check.
Visit our website: [2]www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk
Facebook: [3]Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Twitter: [4]@LancashireFRS
 

show quoted sections

DP&FOI, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

Apologies, the reference number for your request is FOI770/17

Regards

Robert Shaw - Incident Information Officer
Corporate Programme and Intelligence
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Email: dp&[email address]
SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES
Call 0800 169 1125 to book a free Home Fire Safety Check.
Visit our website: www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk
Facebook: Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Twitter: @LancashireFRS

show quoted sections

DP&FOI, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

Dear Madam
 
Freedom of Information Request
 
I am writing further to your email of 27 July 2017 where you requested the
following information:
 
1) Did operators consult with you at the planning application stages /
pre-planning stage, or at any time since on the following emergency
response rescue methods;
 
a) casualty handling;
b) decontamination zones;
c) any special equipment required;
d) emergency procedures discussed and agreed between all parties;
e) water requirements for fire fighting.
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
2) Have any joint incident-response training exercises been discussed or
taken place between operators, yourselves, United Utilities and other
emergency responders? If so, who pays / has paid for this?
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
3) At the planning application stage or pre-planning stage, were the
following points presented to you for consultation;
 
a) alarm systems for fire warning and fire detection;
b) alarm systems for blow-outs;
c)hydrogen sulphide (or other toxic gas) alarm systems;
d) alarm systems which are directly linked to emergency response centres;
e) emergency lighting systems and generators.
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
4) Are any of the points in item 3 regularly checked by you at the site?
If so, how regularly?
b) What role, if any, do you /have you had in advising or supporting the
HSE or company Fire Officers in 'Process (PSPs)' and 'General Safety
Precautions (GSPs) ' at this site? 
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
5) Have you ever been provided (either at planning stage or the current
pre-development stage) with a list of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
and / or the chemical CAS numbers of ALL chemicals proposed for use at
this site?
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
6) With reference to chemicals listed as 'proprietary' in documents
supplied to the Environment Agency, are the MSDS and chemical CAS numbers
released to your service or to your knowledge, to the Fire Service through
the Premises Risk Management Process?
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
7) During flow-testing stage of a hydraulic fracturing operation, the
operator  'perforates' the well at various stages below ground. Has the
Fire and Rescue Service been warned in advance that explosives / cords /
detonators will be on site as would be required under the Dangerous
Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002?
 
Please provide all information that you hold OR confirm that no such
consultation has taken place.
 
8) 'The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 has defined an emergency as - 'Any
event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a
place in the UK, the environment of a place in the UK, or war or terrorism
which threatens serious damage to the security of the UK.'
Please advise when your next review of the necessary emergency procedures
for this well site will be, OR confirm that no such review is deemed
necessary.
 
 
Please find our decision below:
 
This letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.
 
Section 17 of the Act provides:
 
(1)        A public authority which, in relation to any request for
information, is to any extent relying on a claim that information is
exempt information must, within the time for complying with Section 1(1),
give the applicant a notice which:-
(a)        states the fact,
(b)        specifies the exemption in question, and
(c)        states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the
exemption applies.
 
In relation to your request for details regarding the above request,
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service can Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND)
whether the information requested is held as the duty in Section 1(1)(a)
of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply by virtue of the
following exemptions:
 
Section 24(2) – National Security
Section 31(3) – Law Enforcement
Section 38(2) – Health and Safety
 
The Neither Confirm Nor Deny Exemptions
 
Returning to the requirements of FOIA, S24, S31 and S38 are qualified and
prejudice based so I am required to articulate the harm and public
interest in relation to confirmation or denial.
 
Harm in confirming or denying that further information is held
 
Disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act are disclosures to the
world not just the individual making the request. In some situations,
simply confirming or denying whether the Authority holds a particular
category of information could itself disclose sensitive and damaging
information. The principle of Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) is long
established and is needed to protect harm which may arise if the Authority
has to confirm or deny whether they hold particular information. In such
circumstances the confirming or denying of the existence of information
can itself communicate sensitive and potentially damaging information. On
this occasion, confirmation of whether any further information is held or
not, would have the effect of undermining this particular activity and
could impact on National Security, as it could lead to individuals
becoming aware of capabilities in this respect both locally and
nationally, and could ultimately compromise response tactics, operations
and future decision making. This should not be taken as an indication that
such information is or is not held.
 
To aid understanding of the Duty to Confirm or Deny I believe that it may
be helpful to explain some of the issues arising from the duty under the
Freedom of Information Act to confirm or deny.
 
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance titled ‘When to
refuse to confirm or deny information is held’ states:
 
‘In certain circumstances, even confirming or denying that requested
information is held can reveal information that falls under an exemption.
A public authority may be able to use an exemption to refuse to confirm
whether or not it holds information, if either confirming or denying would
reveal exempt information in itself. A neither confirm nor deny response
is more likely to be needed for very specific requests than for more
general or wide ranging requests. It can be important to use a neither
confirm nor deny response consistently, every time a certain type of
information is requested, regardless of whether the information is
actually held or not. For this reason public authorities need to be alert
to the possibility of receiving future requests for the same type of
information when handling very specific or detailed requests.’
 
As has been explained the consistent application of neither confirm nor
deny to requests under FOI is sometimes needed to protect the response &
planning capabilities of the Fire and Rescue Service and its partner
agencies. An inconsistent response to identical or similar queries over a
period of time may indicate that information is held or allows such
inferences to be made which in this scenario would be harmful.
 
Evidence of Harm - Sections 24, 31 and 38
 
To confirm or deny a Fire and Rescue Service’s capability to respond to or
plan for such incidents would enable those engaged in criminal activity or
any form of terrorism or domestic extremism to identify any
vulnerabilities that could be exploited and would prejudice national
security.
 
The national security exemption is based on the effect that disclosure
would have, not on the content or source of the information.
 
As you may be aware, disclosure under FOIA is a release to the public at
large. Whilst not questioning the motives of the applicant, releasing any
information held regarding the planning for such incidents, would show
criminals what the capacity, tactical abilities and capabilities of the
fire and rescue service are, allowing them to target specific areas of the
UK to conduct their criminal/terrorist activities. Releasing planning
information for specific circumstances, would lead to an increase in harm
of attacks and compromise law enforcement. This would be to the detriment
of providing an efficient emergency response service and a failure in
providing a duty of care to all members of the public.
 
The threat from terrorism cannot be ignored. It is generally recognised
that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and
unpredictable. Since 2006, the UK Government have published the threat
level. The UK continues to face a sustained threat from violent extremists
and terrorists and the current UK threat level is set at ‘severe’. The
recent attacks in Manchester and London, together with the related
security activity in Belgium, France and Spain only serves to emphasise
the reality of such threats.
 
The disclosure of local and national information would limit operational
capabilities as criminals/terrorists would gain a greater understanding of
the emergency service’s capacity, methods and techniques, enabling them to
take steps to counter them. It may also suggest the limitations of
capabilities in this area, which may further encourage terrorist activity
by exposing potential vulnerabilities. This detrimental effect is
increased if the request is made to several different emergency services
and law enforcement agencies. In addition to the local criminal fraternity
now being better informed, those intent on organised crime throughout the
UK will be able to ‘map’ where the use of certain tactics are or are not
deployed or where levels of capability exist. This can be useful
information to those intent on committing crimes. It would have the
likelihood of identifying location-specific operations which would
ultimately compromise response tactics and operations as individuals with
malicious intent could counteract the measures used against them.
 
Any information identifying the focus of emergency response and planning
activity could be used to the advantage of terrorists and/or criminal
organisations. Information that undermines the operational integrity of
these activities will adversely affect public safety and have a negative
impact on both national security and law enforcement.
 
 
National Security
 
Section 24(2) of the FoIA states 'The duty to confirm or deny does not
arise if, or to the extent that, exemption from section 1(1)(a) is
required for the purpose of safeguarding national security.'
The exemption is based on the effect that disclosure would have, not on
the content or source of the information.
 
ICO guidance emphasises there is no definition of national security and
refers to an Information Tribunal Decision (EA/2006/0045) that noted the
following:
 
•           "National security" means the security of the United Kingdom
and its people;
•           The interests of national security are not limited to actions
by an individual which are targeted at the UK, its system of government or
its people;
•           The protection of democracy and the legal and constitutional
systems of the state are part of national security as well as military
defence;
•           Action against a foreign state may be capable indirectly of
affecting the security of the UK;
•           Reciprocal co-operation between the UK and other states in
combating international terrorism is capable of promoting the United
Kingdom's national security.
 
The refusal to confirm or deny is required for the purposes of
safeguarding national security. As mentioned above, whilst national
security is not defined under the Freedom of Information Act, it does
include the security of the United Kingdom and its people.
 
Public Interest Considerations – Section 24
 
Factors Against Neither Confirming Nor Denying – Section 24
 
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent. Any
confirmation or denial that Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service holds such
information would allow the public to gauge the appropriate use of public
funds in carrying out their national security obligations. In addition, it
would provide appropriate transparency and reassurance regarding the level
of capability in Lancashire.
 
This may also enhance public confidence in the fire and rescue service.
This in turn would add to the accuracy of public awareness and debate
whilst providing an insight into the service and enable the public to have
a better understanding of effectiveness of the fire and rescue service and
the use of public resources. It would inform other issues that are
currently the subject of public debate in relation to response
capabilities and improve the quality and accuracy of public debate, which
may otherwise be steeped in rumour and speculation.
 
Factors Favouring Neither Confirming Nor Denying – Section 24
 
The strongest reason favouring confirming or denying whether information
is held is the consideration of public funds. The strongest reason
favouring neither confirming nor denying whether information is held is
the need to ensure that national security is not placed at risk by
enabling those with criminal intent the opportunity to gain an operational
advantage over the Fire and Rescue Service in respect of disclosing
details regarding capability to respond to specific incidents. On balance,
I find there is a much stronger public interest in neither confirming nor
denying whether the requested information is held.
 
 
Law Enforcement
 
Section 31(3) states ‘The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to
the extent that compliance with section 1(1)(a) would or would be likely
to, prejudice any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1)’.
 
The term ‘law enforcement’ should be interpreted broadly. In the case of
William Thomas Stevenson v the Information Commissioner and North
Lancashire Teaching Primary Care Trust the Upper Tribunal commented that
“it is plain from reading the activities listed in s.31(1) and the
purposes specified in s.31(2), that they include activities and purposes
which go beyond actual law enforcement in the sense of taking civil or
criminal or regulatory proceedings. They include a wide variety of
activities which can be regarded as in aid of or related to the
enforcement of (i) the criminal law, (ii) any regulatory regime
established by statute, (iii) professional and other disciplinary codes,
(iv) standards of fitness and competence for acting as a company director
or other manager of a corporate body (v) aspects of law relating to
charities and their property and (vi) standards of health and safety at
work” (paragraph 75).
 
Factors Against Neither Confirming Nor Denying - Section 31
 
Confirming or denying if information is held relating to the response and
planning for such incidents would provide an insight into the Fire and
Rescue Service’s actions and enable the public to have a better
understanding of the effectiveness of the emergency services. It would
show how public funds are being spent in relation to protection against
risk of such incidents which can be exploited by terrorism and other
criminal activity.
 
Some information may already be in the public domain regarding the
response and planning for such incidents and providing further information
would ensure transparency and accountability and enable the public to see
what capability the Fire and Rescue Service has to assist with attending
such incidents.
 
Factors Favouring Neither Confirming Nor Denying - Section 31
 
It has been recorded that FOIA releases are monitored by criminals and
terrorists and so releasing information held regarding the planning and
operations of terrorist attacks and tactics would undermined and
compromise law enforcement and it would also hinder any local, regional or
national operations.
 
It can be argued that there are significant risks associated with
providing information in relation to any aspects of terrorism planning and
that any nation's security arrangements, by releasing the information, may
reveal the relative vulnerability of what we may be trying to protect.
 
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service would not wish to reveal information
that would undermine any law enforcement operations and would impact on
emergency response resources, as more crime would be committed because
terrorists/criminals would know such information, capacity or interest and
individuals would therefore be placed at a greater risk. A fear of crime
would be realised because if the terrorists identified more vulnerable
areas, they would target and exploit these areas and the public would be
in fear of more terrorist or criminal activity occurring. This may lead to
the emergency services needing to increase their resources to reassure and
protect the community.
 
 
Health and Safety
 
Section 38(1) states information is exempt information if its disclosure
under this act would, or would be likely to –
 
(a) endanger the physical or mental health of any individual, or
(b) endanger the safety of any individual
 
Evidence of Harm - Section 38
 
To confirm or deny whether the requested information is held could lead to
attacks being carried out locally or nationally, is likely to involve
criminal acts and threaten the safety of Fire and Rescue Service staff,
partner agencies and members of the public.
 
Public Interest Considerations - Section 38
 
Factors Against Neither Confirming Nor Denying – Section 38
 
Confirming or denying whether this information is held would lead to
better informed public awareness and debate.
 
Factors Favouring Neither Confirming Nor Denying – Section 38
 
To confirm or deny the existence of this information would endanger the
health and safety of any residents or visitors to the county would
undermine Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s ability to protect the
safety and well-being of the community.
 
Balance Test - Sections 24, 31 and 38
 
Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of the use of public
funds and the accountability of the Service, there is also a strong public
interest in maintaining confidence in Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
with regard to national security, law enforcement and protecting the
safety and well-being of citizens.
 
Irrespective of whether information is or is not held, public safety and
the ability to deliver effective emergency planning and response
provision, and assisting with law enforcement is also of paramount
importance to the Fire and Rescue Service. Confirmation or denial of
whether information is held would undoubtedly compromise both national
security and undermine law enforcement and public safety processes.
Therefore, it is our opinion that for these reasons the balancing test for
not confirming whether or not any information is held is upheld. However,
this should not be taken as conclusive evidence that the information you
requested exists or does not exist.
 
 
If you are unhappy with the information you have received in relation to
your request and wish to make an appeal or request a review of our
decision, you should write to the Director of Strategy and Planning at the
address shown below or by e-mail.
 
The Director of Strategy and Planning Delivery
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Fire Service HQ
Garstang Road
Fulwood
Preston
PR2 3LH
 
Appeals or reviews should be made within 40 working days of our response
to your request being issued.  Any appeals or requests for review received
outside of the 40 working days will be refused.  Please note this is in
line with the Information Commissioner’s own working practices.
If you are not content with the outcome of your appeal or review, you may
apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally,
the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints
procedure provided by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.
 
The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
 
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45
[1]www.ico.gov.uk
 
Should you have any queries with regards to this email or require any
additional information, please contact me on the details listed below 
 
Yours faithfully
 
Robert Shaw - Incident Information Officer
Corporate Programme and Intelligence
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Telephone external: 01772 866842
Telephone internal:  (2) 6842
Email: [2][email address]
SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES
Call 0800 169 1125 to book a free Home Fire Safety Check.
Visit our website: [3]www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk
Facebook: [4]Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Twitter: [5]@LancashireFRS
 

show quoted sections

Dear Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service's handling of my FOI request 'Emergency Planning: Onshore gas and oil exploration and extraction'.

I do not consider that you have correctly applied the principles behind your refusal to provide the requested information.

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,

Helen Chuntso

Robert Shaw, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

Dear Ms Chuntso
I must apologies for the delay in acknowledging your request for Internal Review. Unfortunately we appear to be having issues receiving notifications from Whatdotheydo and as such we were not informed of your request.

I have now passed your request for review to the relevant person to action and we shall contact you with our decision in due course.

Robert Shaw
Incident Information Officer
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

Robert Shaw, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

Dear Ms Chuntso

Please find attached the decision following your request for internal review.

Regards

Robert Shaw
Incident Information Officer
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

Robert Shaw, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

1 Attachment

Please see attached decision

DP&FOI, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

Dear Ms Chuntso,
 
I write further to our email dated the 22^nd of August 2017 which
contained our refusal in relation to your request for information under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) about the Cuadrilla site at
Preston New Road.
 
You will be aware that, having made a complaint about this refusal to the
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), they have made contact with us.
In their letter to us, the ICO explained that their initial view was that
the information you requested was likely to be environmental information,
and as such, we should handle your request under the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) rather than the FOI.
 
In correspondence with the ICO, they agreed with me that, given the amount
of information that you requested, the situation is not so clear cut, and
whilst some of the information is likely to be environmental, some of it
is not. As such, it was agreed that, in addition to the exemptions under
the FOI, we would also apply the (similar) exceptions found under the EIR.
This does not fundamentally alter our decision or the reason for our
refusal, it simply applies the criteria found in the EIR to the request,
which is in practice very similar to that under the FOI.
 
In addition however, and having considered the situation further, I have
identified a further exemption under the FOI, namely that found in section
41”Information provided in confidence.” This exemption is spelt out
further below.
 
In relation then to the EIR exemptions, there are two that are applicable
– national security and public safety -  and which are broadly similar to
the exemptions under sections 24 and 38 FOI.
 
This letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Regulation 12(1) of the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004
 
Regulation 12(1) says:
 
Exemptions to the duty to disclose environmental information
 
12. – (1) Subject to paragraphs (2), (3) and (9), a public authority may
refuse to disclose environmental information requested if –
 

 a. An exception to disclosure applies under paragraphs (4) or (5); and
 b. In all circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining
the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the
information

 
and under
 
Regulation 14(3) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004
 
Regulation 14(3) of the Environmental Information Regulation 2004 relates
to refusals to disclose information, and states:
 
(3) The refusal shall specify the reasons not to disclose the information
requested, including(a) any exception relied on under regulations 12(4),
12(5) or 13; and
(b) the matters the public authority considered in reaching its decision
with respect to the public interest under regulation 12(1)(b) or, where
these apply, regulations 13(2)(a)(ii) or 13(3).
 
In relation to your request for details regarding the above request,
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service can Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND)
whether the information requested is held and enacts the following
exemption:
 
Regulation 12(5)(a) – Adverse effect upon international relations,
defence, national security, or public safety.
Regulation 12(6) – A public authority may respond to a request by neither
confirming nor denying whether such information exists and is held by the
public authority, whether or not it holds such information, if that
confirmation or denial would involve the disclosure of information which
would adversely affect any of the interests referred to in paragraph
(5)(a) and would not be in the public interest under paragraph (1)(b).
 
Under the Environmental Information Act I am required to articulate the
our position and the public interest in relation to confirmation or
denial.
 
Disclosures under the Environmental Information Act are disclosures to the
world not just the individual making the request. In some situations,
simply confirming or denying whether the Authority holds a particular
category of information could itself disclose sensitive and damaging
information. The principle of Neither Confirm Nor Deny (NCND) is long
established and is needed to protect harm which may arise if the Authority
has to confirm or deny whether they hold particular information. In such
circumstances the confirming or denying of the existence of information
can itself communicate sensitive and potentially damaging information. On
this occasion, confirmation of whether any further information is held or
not, would have the effect of undermining this particular activity and
could impact on National Security, as it could lead to individuals
becoming aware of capabilities in this respect both locally and
nationally, and could ultimately compromise response tactics, operations
and future decision making. This should not be taken as an indication that
such information is or is not held.
 
In certain circumstances, even confirming or denying that requested
information is held can reveal information that falls under an exemption.
A public authority may be able to use an exemption to refuse to confirm
whether or not it holds information, if either confirming or denying would
reveal exempt information in itself. A neither confirm nor deny response
is more likely to be needed for very specific requests than for more
general or wide ranging requests. It can be important to use a neither
confirm nor deny response consistently, every time a certain type of
information is requested, regardless of whether the information is
actually held or not. For this reason public authorities need to be alert
to the possibility of receiving future requests for the same type of
information when handling very specific or detailed requests.
 
As has been explained the consistent application of neither confirm nor
deny to requests under both FOI & EIR is sometimes needed to protect the
response & planning capabilities of the Fire and Rescue Service and its
partner agencies. An inconsistent response to identical or similar queries
over a period of time may indicate that information is held or allows such
inferences to be made which in this scenario would be harmful.
 
To confirm or deny a Fire and Rescue Service’s capability to respond to or
plan for such incidents would enable those engaged in criminal activity or
any form of terrorism or domestic extremism to identify any
vulnerabilities that could be exploited and would prejudice national
security.
 
The national security exemption is based on the effect that disclosure
would have, not on the content or source of the information.
 
As you may be aware, disclosure under EIR is a release to the public at
large. Whilst not questioning the motives of the applicant, releasing any
information held regarding the planning for such incidents, would show
criminals what the capacity, tactical abilities and capabilities of the
fire and rescue service are, allowing them to target specific areas of the
UK to conduct their criminal/terrorist activities. Releasing planning
information for specific circumstances, would lead to an increase in harm
of attacks and compromise law enforcement. This would be to the detriment
of providing an efficient emergency response service and a failure in
providing a duty of care to all members of the public.
 
The threat from terrorism cannot be ignored. It is generally recognised
that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and
unpredictable. Since 2006, the UK Government have published the threat
level. The UK continues to face a sustained threat from violent extremists
and terrorists and the current UK threat level is set at ‘severe’. The
recent attacks in Manchester and London, together with the related
security activity in Belgium, France and Spain only serves to emphasise
the reality of such threats.
 
The disclosure of local and national information would limit operational
capabilities as criminals/terrorists would gain a greater understanding of
the emergency service’s capacity, methods and techniques, enabling them to
take steps to counter them. It may also suggest the limitations of
capabilities in this area, which may further encourage terrorist activity
by exposing potential vulnerabilities. This detrimental effect is
increased if the request is made to several different emergency services
and law enforcement agencies. In addition to the local criminal fraternity
now being better informed, those intent on organised crime throughout the
UK will be able to ‘map’ where the use of certain tactics are or are not
deployed or where levels of capability exist. This can be useful
information to those intent on committing crimes. It would have the
likelihood of identifying location-specific operations which would
ultimately compromise response tactics and operations as individuals with
malicious intent could counteract the measures used against them.
 
Any information identifying the focus of emergency response and planning
activity could be used to the advantage of terrorists and/or criminal
organisations. Information that undermines the operational integrity of
these activities will adversely affect public safety and have a negative
impact on both national security and law enforcement.
 
 
National Security
 
ICO guidance emphasises there is no definition of national security and
refers to an Information Tribunal Decision (EA/2006/0045) that noted the
following:
 
•           "National security" means the security of the United Kingdom
and its people;
•           The interests of national security are not limited to actions
by an individual which are targeted at the UK, its system of government or
its people;
•           The protection of democracy and the legal and constitutional
systems of the state are part of national security as well as military
defence;
•           Action against a foreign state may be capable indirectly of
affecting the security of the UK;
•           Reciprocal co-operation between the UK and other states in
combating international terrorism is capable of promoting the United
Kingdom's national security.
 
The refusal to confirm or deny is required for the purposes of
safeguarding national security. As mentioned above, whilst national
security is not defined under the Freedom of Information Act or
Environmental Information Regulations, it does include the security of the
United Kingdom and its people.
 
Public Interest Considerations
 
Factors Against Neither Confirming Nor Denying:
 
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent. Any
confirmation or denial that Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service holds such
information would allow the public to gauge the appropriate use of public
funds in carrying out their national security obligations. In addition, it
would provide appropriate transparency and reassurance regarding the level
of capability in Lancashire.
 
This may also enhance public confidence in the fire and rescue service.
This in turn would add to the accuracy of public awareness and debate
whilst providing an insight into the service and enable the public to have
a better understanding of effectiveness of the fire and rescue service and
the use of public resources. It would inform other issues that are
currently the subject of public debate in relation to response
capabilities and improve the quality and accuracy of public debate, which
may otherwise be steeped in rumour and speculation.
 
Factors Favouring Neither Confirming Nor Denying:
 
The strongest reason favouring confirming or denying whether information
is held is the consideration of public funds. The strongest reason
favouring neither confirming nor denying whether information is held is
the need to ensure that national security is not placed at risk by
enabling those with criminal intent the opportunity to gain an operational
advantage over the Fire and Rescue Service in respect of disclosing
details regarding capability to respond to specific incidents. On balance,
I find there is a much stronger public interest in neither confirming nor
denying whether the requested information is held.
 
 
Public Safety
 
To confirm or deny whether the requested information is held could lead to
attacks being carried out locally or nationally, is likely to involve
criminal acts and threaten the safety of Fire and Rescue Service staff,
partner agencies and members of the public.
 
Public Interest Considerations
 
Factors Against Neither Confirming Nor Denying:
 
Confirming or denying whether this information is held would lead to
better informed public awareness and debate.
 
Factors Favouring Neither Confirming Nor Denying
 
To confirm or deny the existence of this information would endanger the
public safety of any residents or visitors to the county and would
undermine Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s ability to protect the
safety and well-being of the community.
 
 
Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of the use of public
funds and the accountability of the Service, there is also a strong public
interest in maintaining confidence in Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
with regard to national security and protecting the safety and well-being
of citizens.
 
Irrespective of whether information is or is not held, public safety and
the ability to deliver effective emergency planning and response
provision, is also of paramount importance to the Fire and Rescue Service.
Confirmation or denial of whether information is held would undoubtedly
compromise both national security and public safety processes. Therefore,
it is our opinion that for these reasons the balancing test for not
confirming whether or not any information is held is upheld. However, this
should not be taken as conclusive evidence that the information you
requested exists or does not exist.
 
Section 41 FOI Information provided in confidence.
This letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.
 
Section 17 of the Act provides:
 
(1)        A public authority which, in relation to any request for
information, is to any extent relying on a claim that information is
exempt information must, within the time for complying with Section 1(1),
give the applicant a notice which:-
(a)        states the fact,
(b)        specifies the exemption in question, and
(c)        states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the
exemption applies.
 
In relation to your request for the details outlined above, the following
exemption(s) are enacted:
 
Section 41 – Information provided in confidence (Absolute Exemption).
Section 41(1) states:
41.—(1) Information is exempt information if —
 
(a) it was obtained by the public authority from any other person
(including another public authority), and,
 
(b) the disclosure of the information to the public (otherwise than under
this Act) by the public authority holding it would constitute a breach of
confidence actionable by that or any other person.
A release of information under the Freedom of Information Act is
considered to be a release to the wider world and not just to person
requesting the information.
Some of the information requested by you would be provided in confidence,
and as such have the necessary quality of confidence as the information is
more than trivial and not otherwise accessible.  Disclosure of such
information would constitute a breach of confidence.
This is an exemption to which the “neither confirm nor deny” provision
applies ( section 41 (2) FOI – “The duty to confirm or deny does not arise
if, or to the extent that, the confirmation or denial that would have to
be given to comply with section 1(1)(a) would (apart from this Act)
constitute an actionable breach of confidence”). My view is that this is
applicable in this case for the following reasons.
Factors Against Neither Confirming Nor Denying
 
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent. Any
confirmation or denial that Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service holds such
information would allow the public to gauge the appropriate use of public
funds in carrying out their obligations. In addition, it would provide
appropriate transparency and reassurance regarding the level of capability
in Lancashire.
 
This may also enhance public confidence in the fire and rescue service.
This in turn would add to the accuracy of public awareness and debate
whilst providing an insight into the service and enable the public to have
a better understanding of effectiveness of the fire and rescue service and
the use of public resources. It would inform other issues that are
currently the subject of public debate in relation to response
capabilities and improve the quality and accuracy of public debate, which
may otherwise be steeped in rumour and speculation.
 
Factors Favouring Neither Confirming Nor Denying – Section 24
 
The strongest reason favouring confirming or denying whether information
is held is the consideration of public funds. The strongest reason
favouring neither confirming nor denying whether information is held is
the need to ensure that our operational ability is not placed at risk by
enabling those with criminal intent the opportunity to gain an operational
advantage over the Fire and Rescue Service in respect of disclosing
details regarding capability to respond to specific incidents. Information
provided to us in confidence is vital to our ability to construct a robust
tactical and strategic plan. If we were to disclose information provided
to us in confidence by other agencies, not only would that undermine the
ability of those other agencies to operate effectively, it is also likely
to lead to a reluctance to share information in the future which would
undermine the efforts of all agencies. On balance, I find there is a much
stronger public interest in neither confirming nor denying whether the
requested information is held.
 
Yours sincerely
Robert Shaw - Incident Information Officer
Corporate Programme and Intelligence
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Email: [1]dp&[email address]
SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES
Call 0800 169 1125 to book a free Home Fire Safety Check.
Visit our website: [2]www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk
Facebook: [3]Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Twitter: [4]@LancashireFRS
 
 
 
 
 

show quoted sections

DP&FOI, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

This message has been hidden. In the spirit of goodwill we've removed some unimportant accidentally disclosed communications from this thread following a request for us to do so from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. Please contact us if you have any questions. If you are the requester, then you may sign in to view the message.

SHQ - Shaw, Robert, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

Dear Ms Chuntso,

 

Request for Information under FOI/EIR: 770/17

 

We write further to the Decision Notice issued by the Information
Commissioner’s Office dated the 5^th of April 2018 with refers to your 8
requests of us for information relating to the Preston New Road fracking
site.

 

For the sake of clarity, it is our understanding that the Decision Notice
simply requires us to either confirm or deny whether we hold the
information requested. It does not require us to release that information,
if we hold it, and does permit us to rely on any exemptions within the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 to withhold that information.

 

It is our intention in due course to make the confirmation or denial as
required. However, we still believe that release of the actual information
poses a threat to public safety and to the ability of the emergency
services to respond to incidents and are therefore not prepared to release
it. As such, we intend to explain to you the grounds upon which we seek to
withhold that information.

 

This email is to explain why we are not yet in a position to comply with
that part of the Decision Notice.

 

The Decision notice also contains a determination as to which legislative
regime applies to the information you requested – the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and / or the Environmental Information Regulations
2004. We asked the ICO to accept that both will apply to different parts
of your request. The ICO disagreed with this – as is set out in the
Decision Notice. We have a right of appeal against any part of the
Decision Notice, and we have today lodged an appeal against that part of
the Decision Notice. For the sake of clarity, we have not appealed against
that part of the Decision that requires us to confirm or deny if we hold
the information.

 

Which legislative regime applies will be relevant to the exemptions that
we can rely on in withholding the information from you after we have made
the confirmation or denial, and as a result, until the appeal is concluded
we cannot comply with that part of the Decision Notice.

 

We have notified the ICO of what we are doing, who have confirmed that
this is the correct approach. We hope that this is a satisfactory
explanation of what we are doing and why and are able to answer any
further queries you may have in this regard.

 

Yours sincerely

Corporate Programme and Intelligence
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Email: [1]dp&[email address]

SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES
Call 0800 169 1125 to book a free Home Fire Safety Check.
Visit our website: [2]www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk
Facebook: [3]Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Twitter: [4]@LancashireFRS

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Robert Shaw, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service

Dear Ms Chuntso

Following the decision of the First-tier Tribunal, reference EA/2018/0084 which relates to your Freedom of Information Request (FOI 770/17) in which you requested information relating to Hydraulic Fracturing at Preston New Road. We no longer look to refuse release of the requested information under the following Sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2000:

Section 24 (2) – Safeguarding National Security
Section 31 (3) – Law Enforcement
Section 38 (2) – Health and Safety
Section 41 (1) – Information Provided in Confidence

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service can confirm that the requested information is held. We do however maintain our position in relation to the release of the request information and as such I am re-issuing a refusal notice under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004:

This letter serves as a Refusal Notice under Regulation 12(1) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004

Regulation 12(1) says:

Exemptions to the duty to disclose environmental information

12. – (1) Subject to paragraphs (2), (3) and (9), a public authority may refuse to disclose environmental information requested if –

(a) An exception to disclosure applies under paragraphs (4) or (5); and
(b) In all circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information

and under

Regulation 14(3) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004

Regulation 14(3) of the Environmental Information Regulation 2004 relates to refusals to disclose information, and states:

(3) The refusal shall specify the reasons not to disclose the information requested, including(a) any exception relied on under regulations 12(4), 12(5) or 13; and
(b) the matters the public authority considered in reaching its decision with respect to the public interest under regulation 12(1)(b) or, where these apply, regulations 13(2)(a)(ii) or 13(3).

Regulation 12(5)(a) – Adverse effect upon international relations, defence, national security, or public safety.

ICO guidance emphasises there is no definition of national security and refers to an Information Tribunal Decision (EA/2006/0045) that noted the following:

• "National security" means the security of the United Kingdom and its people;
• The interests of national security are not limited to actions by an individual which are targeted at the UK, its system of government or its people;
• The protection of democracy and the legal and constitutional systems of the state are part of national security as well as military defence;
• Action against a foreign state may be capable indirectly of affecting the security of the UK;
• Reciprocal co-operation between the UK and other states in combating international terrorism is capable of promoting the United Kingdom's national security.

The national security exemption is based on the effect that disclosure would have, not on the content or source of the information.

As you may be aware, disclosure under EIR is a release to the public at large. Whilst not questioning the motives of the applicant, releasing any information held regarding the planning for such incidents, would show criminals what the capacity, tactical abilities and capabilities of the fire and rescue service are, allowing them to target specific areas of the UK to conduct their criminal/terrorist activities. Releasing such information for specific circumstances, would lead to an increase in harm of attacks and compromise law enforcement. This would be to the detriment of providing an efficient emergency response service and a failure in providing a duty of care to all members of the public.

The threat from terrorism cannot be ignored. It is generally recognised that the international security landscape is increasingly complex and unpredictable. Since 2006, the UK Government have published the threat level. The UK continues to face a sustained threat from violent extremists and terrorists and the current UK threat level is set at ‘severe’. The recent attacks in Manchester and London, together with the related security activity in Belgium, France and Spain only serves to emphasise the reality of such threats.

The disclosure of local and national information would limit operational capabilities as criminals/terrorists would gain a greater understanding of the emergency service’s capacity, methods and techniques, enabling them to take steps to counter them. It may also suggest the limitations of capabilities in this area, which may further encourage terrorist activity by exposing potential vulnerabilities. This detrimental effect is increased if the request is made to several different emergency services and law enforcement agencies. In addition to the local criminal fraternity now being better informed, those intent on organised crime throughout the UK will be able to ‘map’ where the use of certain tactics are or are not deployed or where levels of capability exist. This can be useful information to those intent on committing crimes. It would have the likelihood of identifying location-specific operations which would ultimately compromise response tactics and operations as individuals with malicious intent could counteract the measures used against them.

Any information identifying the focus of emergency response and planning activity could be used to the advantage of terrorists and/or criminal organisations. Information that undermines the operational integrity of these activities will adversely affect public safety and have a negative impact on both national security and law enforcement.

Public Interest Considerations

Factors favouring release:

The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent. Any such release of information by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service would allow the public to gauge the appropriate use of public funds in carrying out their national security obligations. In addition, it would provide appropriate transparency and reassurance regarding the level of capability in Lancashire.

This may also enhance public confidence in the fire and rescue service. This in turn would add to the accuracy of public awareness and debate whilst providing an insight into the service and enable the public to have a better understanding of effectiveness of the fire and rescue service and the use of public resources. It would inform other issues that are currently the subject of public debate in relation to response capabilities and improve the quality and accuracy of public debate, which may otherwise be steeped in rumour and speculation.

Factors favouring withholding the information:

The strongest reason favouring non-release of this information is the need to ensure that national security is not placed at risk by enabling those with criminal intent the opportunity to gain an operational advantage over the Fire and Rescue Service in respect of disclosing details regarding our capability to respond to specific incidents.

On balance, I find there is a much stronger public interest in non-release of the information.

Public Safety

If the requested information was provided, this could lead to attacks being carried out locally or nationally, this is likely to involve criminal acts and threaten the safety of Fire and Rescue Service staff, partner agencies and members of the public.

Public Interest Considerations

Factors favouring release:

Provision of this information would lead to better informed public awareness and debate.

Factors favouring withholding the information:

Provision of this information would endanger the public safety of any residents or visitors to the county and would undermine Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s ability to protect the safety and well-being of the community.

Whilst there is a public interest in the transparency of the use of public funds and the accountability of the Service, there is also a strong public interest in maintaining confidence in Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service with regard to national security and protecting the safety and well-being of citizens.

Public safety and the ability to deliver effective emergency planning and response provision is of paramount importance to the Fire and Rescue Service. Provision of this information would undoubtedly compromise both national security and public safety processes.

On balance, it is our opinion that there is a much stronger public interest in non-release of the information.

In order to be open and transparent wherever possible Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service have now published an overview of our Emergency Planning and Site Specific Risk Information Arrangements at the following location:

https://www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk/conta... and by navigating to ‘How we plan for emergencies’.

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
The Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire,
SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely
Corporate Programme and Intelligence
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Email: dp&[email address]

SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES
Call 0800 169 1125 to book a free Home Fire Safety Check.
Visit our website: www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk
Facebook: Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Twitter: @LancashireFRS