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by Louise Wilson
13 June 2023
Minister refuses to say if legal advice taken on deposit return pause

Lorna Slater took charge of DRS when she become a minister in 2021

Minister refuses to say if legal advice taken on deposit return pause

Lorna Slater was unable to confirm whether the Scottish Government had taken legal advice on its decision to pause the rollout of the deposit return scheme until 2025.

Speaking at Holyrood’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee, the circular economy minister also said the government had not set aside any budget for possible compensation claims by business.

And she also unable to say whether Circularity Scotland, the scheme administrator, would continue until the new launch date.

Slater announced last week that the scheme would not be rolled out until October 2025, in line with the plan for the rest of the UK.

She accused the UK Government of “sabotage” because it had said it would only provide an exemption to the UK-wide Internal Market Act if glass was removed from the scheme.

Asked by Tory MSP Liam Kerr whether the Scottish Government had taken “formal legal advice” ahead of making that decision, the minister said discussions had been had with businesses.

Further pressed on the matter, Slater said she was “not able to discuss” the matter with the committee.

Kerr went on to ask whether the government had set aside a budget to pay back businesses left out of pocket by the delay.

Slater said: “We do not consider that any action we have been required to take gives rise to any obligation to pay compensation.”

The minister was also pressed on what would happen to Circularity Scotland between now and the new launch date. She said it would “not be appropriate” for the Scottish Government to fund the body given it was industry led.

“It is for industry to decide whether the smoothest path for them is to keep CSL going until that 2025 launch or whether they wish to take another route,” she said.

Circularity Scotland was selected to be the scheme administrator in March 2021. Last year, it received £9m from the state-owned Scottish National Investment Bank to help fund start-up costs, though most of its cash comes from drinks producers.

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