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Quick update I have had a reply from olev which as you know I was not happy with. I took it to the next level and thanks to some of you guys I have got another reply. I would love to link it here but I am only on the phone. If somebody can find it and link please do. I have skimmed through it and it's the usual rubbish. We cannot share data as we do not have the staff to correlate it and it cannot be done until the data is complete! Anyway I will put a link up if I ever get home. It's given me heartburn.
 

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Here it is:
P Parr

Senior FOI Officer

Information Rights & Records Unit

Department for Transport

Room D/01, Ashdown House

Sedlescombe Road North
St Leonards on Sea

East Sussex, TN37 7GA
Paul Webb


e-mail: FOI-Advice-Team-DFT

@dft.gsi.gov.uk
By e-mail:

[FOI #215975 email]
4 August 2014


Dear Mr Webb

Re: FOI Request F0011442 - Internal Review
I am writing with regard to your request for information which you originally made to the
Department for Transport on 11 June 2014. Your request was for the following information:

These questions pertain to the home chargers that were subsidised under
the OLEV scheme.

1. How many units were installed under the scheme to date
2. How many of these units have reported a charge or usage since being
put in.
3. How many have stopped reporting data.
4. How many have never reported data after being installed.


The Department responded formally to your request on 7 July 2014. The response provided
information relating to Q1 of your request. As regards your remaining questions, the response
advised you that the information was being withheld in reliance on the exemption in Section 22
of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act). This exemption covers information that is
intended for future publication.

On 11 July you wrote to the Department to express dissatisfaction at the response you had
received and to request that the original decision be reviewed.

As a senior member of the Department’s Information Rights & Records Unit who was not
involved in the handling of the original request, I have carried out an independent internal
review. My findings are set out below.

Part 1) of your request

The Department’s original response letter stated that, ‘up to 30 April 2014, 15717 domestic
charge points were claimed for under the domestic recharging scheme, allowing people to
prepare their homes for plug-in vehicles’. I can confirm that this was the most up-to-date figure
held by the Department when you made your request.

I note however that the response referred to domestic charge points that were ‘claimed for’
under the scheme, whereas you sought information about the number of units that had been
installed. It has been explained to me that there is a lag-time between charge points being
installed and claims for those charge points being submitted to and approved by the


link to page 2 1. That document states, in response to one of the Frequently Asked Questions
included in Annex F, “Our intention is that any analysis and results of our data evaluation will
not be published less than 6 months after the pertinent data was submitted to OLEV, and will
be anonymised if published”. If it had not been the intention to publish information at all, then
this statement about timing of publication would not have been necessary.

Section 22 will only be engaged where it is reasonable in all the circumstances to withhold the
information until the time of planned future publication. In seeking an Internal Review, you
questioned whether it is sensible or fair for information to be withheld until an unspecified
future date. While there is no firm publication date for the information you requested, it is
expected that the information will be published before the end of 2014. (Publication will not
however take place less than 6 months after it has been submitted.) Moreover, I note that a
public authority does not have to have agreed upon a firm future publication date in order to
Section 22 of the FOI Act to be engaged.

The specific data which you requested is not held by the Department in a form that could
readily be disclosed to you. In order to answer your questions about “how many units have
reported a charge or usage since being put in” and “how many have never reported data after
being installed” it would be necessary to review data contained within approximately 15
separate spreadsheets. Each of those spreadsheets would need to be opened and relevant
data identified in order to collate the requested information. That would be a time-consuming
process. To answer your Question 3 (“How many have stopped reporting data?”) it would be
necessary to compare three sets of quarterly returns to identify any charge points that reported
data in the first and/or second quarterly return, but did not report in the subsequent return(s).

1 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploa...a/file/323486/domestic-chargepoint-suppliers-
guidance.pdf

That would add considerably to the time involved.

Importantly, I have also established that the data which the Department holds is incomplete.
This is because returns continue to be made. Any data which were to be released now, or in
response to individual information requests, would not present a full picture and, indeed, would
be likely to give an inaccurate and misleading impression.

For the reasons given in the preceding paragraphs, I consider that it was reasonable of the
Department to withhold the information at this time, with a view to its planned future publication
at the end of the year.

The Section 22 exemption is subject to a Public Interest Test. I agree with you that there is a
clear public interest in disclosure of the requested information. The charging units were
subsidised with public money, and there is a strong public interest in enabling scrutiny of
whether value for money was achieved. The Department recognises that public interest:
detailed information will be released in due course. However, the Public Interest Test in
relation to Section 22 needs to consider the public interest in disclosure at the time of the
request
, i.e., ahead of planned future publication.

In favour of early release, you make the argument that ‘there may have been some abuse of
the scheme with units available on eBay. The information on units that are not reporting would
clarify this’. I recognise that there is a public interest in providing early reassurance about the
proper use of the scheme. If it has been abused, then it is similarly in the public interest for
information to be published as soon as possible.

There is also a public interest in withholding the information at this time. It seems to me that a
key public interest argument relates to the accuracy and reliability of information. Information
which is incomplete or potentially inaccurate would be of considerably less use than
information which presents a full picture and which has been subject to necessary internal
checks and quality-assurance. To publish incomplete or inaccurate information could mislead
the public.

One public interest argument cited in the original response letter was that ‘premature
publishing of the information will significantly disrupt the planned managing of the activity
leading to the general publication of the information’. I have described the process that the
Department would need to go through to locate and extract the information you are seeking.
This would be time-consuming. To carry out that work in response to individual requests for
information would divert staff from their other duties. Specifically, relevant staff are currently
engaged in processing grants for installers of the charge points. Those installers are typically
small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It would not be in the public interest to delay the
payment of eligible grant claims to those firms. Work is also in hand to audit claims and check
for and follow-up on any inconsistencies identified, another priority at this stage.

In my view, it is in the public interest that the Department should have freedom to manage the
timescale of publication of the information you requested with a view to ensuring that, when
the information is released (which is expected to be before the end of this year), it presents a
full, clear and accurate picture of the usage made of home chargers. Publication of full and
complete information would be of much clearer benefit to the public – and would provide
information in terms of legitimate use of the scheme which partial information, released ahead
of time, would not provide.

Environmental Information Regulations
The Department handled your request under the FOI Act. It seems to me that an argument
can be made that the information you are seeking is environmental information. OLEV’s
subsidised home-charger scheme aims to encourage the use of electric vehicles with a view to

reducing emissions from cars. Since it is a measure designed to protect the environment,
information about it would be classed as “environmental information”. Requests for
environmental information fall to be considered under the Environmental Information
Regulations 2004 (“the EIRs”), rather than under the FOI Act. To the extent that the
information is environmental information, FOI Act exemptions are no longer relevant.

The EIRs do not have an exemption that specifically covers information that is intended for
future publication. However, Regulation 12(4)(d) of the EIRs provides that “a public authority
may refuse to disclose information to the extent that the request relates to material which is
still in the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data”. As explained
above, information relating to the usage of subsidised home-chargers is still being collected,
collated and checked. Final figures corresponding to the information you are seeking are not
held. In other words, the information you requested relates to material which is still in the
course of completion, and also to incomplete data.

EIR regulation 12(4)(d) is a qualified exception, which means that it is subject to a Public
Interest Test. The public interest arguments for and against disclosure mirror those set out
above in the context of the FOI Act Section 22 exemption. There is a clear public interest in
release of information about the OLEV scheme, but information which is complete and which
has been checked for accuracy. The information currently held by the Department is not
complete and has not yet been checked for accuracy. The Department does however intend to
publish full information about the scheme, covering the information you were seeking, after
work to collate and check it has been completed. That planned future publication of detailed
information will meet the public interest in disclosure.

To the extent that the information you are requesting can properly be considered to be
environmental information, it is my view that it comes within the scope of EIR regulation
12(4)(d). It is also my view that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the
public interest in its release.


If you are not content with the outcome of this 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

Yours sincerely,



P Parr

Pdf linked from https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/usage_of_home_charge_points_unde?unfold=1#incoming-546484
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thankyou, thoughts everybody
 

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Interesting to note that
"While there is no firm publication date for the information you requested, it is
expected that the information will be published before the end of 2014."
That said, their argument basically it boils down to, "we will publish it, so you'll have to wait".
I suspect you won't get anywhere against the bureaucracy, but please keep trying.
To paraphrase someone cleverer than me: "There may be little hope, but if you don't fight, there is no hope".
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Read it again and they say that when the information is all collected. I do not understand does that mean when the scheme finishes?
 

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Anyone want to submit a new FOI request asking when they intend to publish data for the periods ending 30 June and 31 August?


As an aside, I don't think we should push too hard on this. (writing our MPs, calling in the press...) If it blows up, it could negatively impact all EV subsidies.
 

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As an aside, I don't think we should push too hard on this. (writing our MPs, calling in the press...) If it blows up, it could negatively impact all EV subsidies.
Yes, this. We're in danger of blowing our own foot off here.
 

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Or, we may shine a light on how the taxpayer money is being spent, and make some of the shoddy practices stop - Home chargers for people who don't have an EV, Charge posts standing idle for months because they cost more to use than petrol, etc.
 

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Or, we may shine a light on how the taxpayer money is being spent, and make some of the shoddy practices stop - Home chargers for people who don't have an EV, Charge posts standing idle for months because they cost more to use than petrol, etc.
To what end, so we can all say we exposed waste of money, do you really believe it will do any good, all it will do is ensure future funding goes elsewhere.
 

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How about seeing if a reputable journalist may be interested in taking this up? Might be able to ask the right questions and shine a light in the right places - without it being an EV mission of some sort.
 
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