Lorna Slater denies that delay to DRS is inevitable
Lorna Slater has denied that a delay to the Scottish Government’s deposit return scheme (DRS) is inevitable.
The circular economy minister described the DRS as “significant” and “transformational” and told the Holyrood chamber that it will not be delayed despite calls from MSPs during Topical Questions.
Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden, who described the scheme as “a car crash”, argued that “delay is almost inevitable at some point”, telling the minister that she either take “an informed and workable pause to rescue the scheme or wait for the Scottish Government’s staggering incompetence to force us into a messy delay”.
Drinks manufacturers have until midnight to complete their registration with scheme administrator Circularity Scotland. Golden argued that if that is not extended “we pass the point of no return” as a “workable pause becomes extremely difficult because businesses will be liable for a delay”.
Slater said that Golden was "confused" and pointed out that liability will only taken on by the industry if there is a delay to the launch date, which is set for 16 August.
Golden also asked the minister if an application for an exemption to the Internal Market Act, which governs post-Brexit trading arrangements inside the UK, had been officially submitted. Slater was not able to give a direct answer to the question and told Golden that the Scottish Government has been “following the agreed process to seek exclusion of the DRS regulations from the Internal Markets Act”.
She added: “This has been in discussion with UK Government beginning in 2021...
“[We] will continue to press the UK Government for a decision as soon as possible to give businesses the clarity that they need.”
Golden highlighted the difficulties businesses could be faced with while “the minister seems to be closing her eyes”. But Slater rebutted the claims telling the Tory MSP that the recently announced £22m funding to help small and medium sized firms with cash flow issues ahead of the scheme launch “is exactly what businesses were asking for”.
Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, Colin Smyth, asked why his party’s proposed delay for SMEs was voted down by SNP and Green MSPs, “yet days later the minister said she is actively considering such a delay”.
Slater confirmed to Smyth that she is “seriously considering that grace period [of a year for small prodcuers]”.
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