Prime Minister must reverse his wrecking changes to deposit return scheme

These are dangerous times for democracy in Scotland, warns Mark Ruskell MSP, as the UK Government looks to undermine the will of the Scottish Parliament.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s attempts to wreck the UK’s only viable deposit return scheme will damage jobs and the environment, the Scottish Greens have warned.

The Tory government’s refusal to grant an exemption to the Internal Market Act for glass bottles, or provide details over other pre-conditions, means the Scottish Government’s DRS scheme is now in real jeopardy. 

Responding to a letter from Scotland’s First Minister to the Prime Minister, Scottish Greens environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP said: “Politicians, businesses and environmental groups up and down the country are rightly furious at the Prime Minister’s failure of  leadership and utter disregard for the environment, jobs and investment in the decisions he and his ministers have taken.

“Not only are they at real risk of fatally damaging Scotland’s deposit return scheme, his decision poses a huge threat to future schemes in other parts of the UK.

“There is a potential big prize here for the UK. A full exemption to the power-grabbing IMA would see Scotland go ahead with the scheme which our parliament voted for and which the UKG itself wanted until a sudden u-turn last year. It could be a trailblazer for the UK, an opportunity for shared learning.

“Instead, where we are today blows a huge hole in the environmental and economic case. Arbitrarily forcing Scotland to rule out glass bottles is a two-finger response to cleaner beaches and parks, better recycling and reduced carbon emissions.

“But even worse, the UK Government has imposed a set of half-baked conditions which threaten to keep shifting goalposts at a time when businesses are pleading for certainty. The UK Government is asking the Scottish Government to do the impossible and accept their conditions without knowing what they are. 

“These are the actions of the polluter’s party - the party that gives permission for coal mines, that would have us burning oil and gas until the wells run dry, and is content for litter to keep piling up in our parks and streets.

“The Scottish Greens in government offer the other path. We are putting record funding into nature restoration, we are encouraging people back onto public transport through free travel for U22s and cheaper rail, we are consulting on an energy strategy that has a presumption against fossil fuels, and tackling how we heat our buildings.”

He added: “The deposit return scheme was passed by the Scottish Parliament, in the knowledge that the same idea was in the UK Government’s own 2019 election manifesto until it kowtowed to business lobbying last year. 

“That’s why I am so angry and disappointed. This is happening not because of the science, or the expertise, or the economy. It is constitutional warfare being waged by the UK Tory Government against Scotland’s Parliament as the Tories burn the house down before being kicked out of office next year.  It’s short-sighted political game-playing against jobs, investment and our environment.

“These are dangerous times for democracy in Scotland as a result and the price is being paid by those who may now lose their jobs, the businesses who had invested heavily in doing the right and responsible things, the companies which had made their preparations, and above all, our environment which will be left more polluted and degraded.” 

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