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Deposit Return Scheme: Lorna Slater accuses UK Government of 'treating Scottish Parliament with contempt'

Green minister Lorna Slater

Deposit Return Scheme: Lorna Slater accuses UK Government of 'treating Scottish Parliament with contempt'

Lorna Slater has accused the UK Government of showing "utter disregard for devolution" over reports that Westminster could refuse consent for Scotland's flagship Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) without major changes.

Reports suggest UK ministers will require glass to be excluded from the pro-recycling scheme and that this will become a pilot for a UK-wide initiative, rather than a stand-alone Scottish project.

Without these changes, it is claimed, an exemption from post-Brexit domestic trade rules will not be given and the scheme - which has already cost millions of pounds - cannot go ahead.

Slater, the Scottish Government minister responsible for DRS, has now issued a furious attack on the UK Government.

And she has raised questions over whether the long-awaited scheme can continue, saying she would need to "fully consider the implications" for its successful delivery and consult industry again before going ahead.

The Green politician said: "Once again the UK Government has shown utter disregard for devolution. Scottish ministers have, as yet, received no notice of their decision.

"This is treating the Scottish Parliament with contempt."

The statement comes after SNP MSP Clare Adamson accused the UK Government of "anti-democratic posturing" over the matter, saying this is putting DRS and devolution "at risk".

In a statement, Slater said: "If press reports are accurate, this would be an eleventh hour decision from the UK Government to unilaterally remove glass from Scotland's Deposit Return Scheme, which would ride roughshod over the devolution settlement, undermine our efforts to protect our environment and reduce climate emissions. We can see no justification for their report actions, which would undermine their own climate targets."

The circular economy minister said: "It would mean around 600m bottles that would have been collected by the scheme will not be, despite businesses in Scotland having invested millions of pounds in preparation to include them. If this decision turns out as reported, many of these bottles would unnecessarily end up as broken glass on our streets, our parks and our beaches.

"We remain committed to the deliver of a successful Deposit Return Scheme but we would need to fully consider the implications for the successful delivery of the scheme and discuss these with businesses and delivery partners. I intend to provide an update to parliament as soon as possible."

Plans to create a DRS were legislated in May 2020, seven months before the passage of the UK's Internal Market Act, which did not receive consent from the Scottish or Welsh parliaments.

At the time, the Scottish Government called the post-Brexit regulations a "power-grab".

Earlier this week, prime minister Rishi Sunak called on the Scottish Government to reconsider the DRS plan over the costs to consumers.

Each single-use item would carry a levy of 20p, which would be recoverable when the empty container was returned to retailers.

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