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by Kirsteen Paterson
20 April 2023
Scottish Greens accuse HPMA and DRS critics of 'handing death sentence to future generations'

Mark Ruskell MSP

Scottish Greens accuse HPMA and DRS critics of 'handing death sentence to future generations'

Opponents of controversial fishing-ban zones and the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) are "handing a death sentence to future generations", the Scottish Greens have claimed.

The claim comes as the party responds to an Audit Scotland report which criticised "weaknesses" in the Scottish Government's approach to climate change.

The watchdog said the SNP-Green administration is "not clear enough" on how internal groups coordinate their work and gaps in reporting make it "difficult to assess progress against climate policy".

The Greens say the findings "should be a warning to opposition parties not to stand in the way of action" on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) and the DRS.

First Minister Humza Yousaf announced a 10-month pause on the DRS, which aims to improve recycling rates, blaming the UK Government for "delaying" the necessary exclusion from the Internal Market Act.

However, the suspension follows sustained criticism about its impact on small drinks firms and rural communities. Tory MSP Maurice Golden called it "shambolic" and "not fit for purpose".

Meanwhile, there is further controversy over Scottish Government aims to ban commercial fishing in 10 per cent of Scotland's seas by implementing HPMAs around the coast. 

Supporters say these are needed to protect vulnerable species, but opponents argue they will harm fishing communities. The issue was a point of debate in the recent SNP leadership contest, with Kate Forbes calling for the plan to be scrapped.

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has submitted a parliamentary motion urging the Scottish Government to heed community concerns after Highland band Skippinish entered the top ten in the iTunes download chart with their track The Clearances Again, which protests HPMAs.

Mark Ruskell, climate spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said the "tried and tested" plans must go ahead. He said: "Nobody can deny that we need to protect our seas, that we need to create a circular economy, transform our energy supplies and completely reimagine our transport solutions. Yet Labour and the Tories are conspiring against these most vital of actions.

"Whether it is the Deposit Return Scheme or Highly Protected Marine Areas, these are tried, tested and simple solutions that have worked in other countries.

"Those who are actively working against those aims are in effect handing a death sentence to future generations with their stubborn political ambition.

“Rather than standing in the way of climate action, instead of using sleight of hand to further their ambitions for power at Westminster, they should be putting people and planet first and working with governments across all nations to tackle the greatest global threat we will ever face."

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