FM contradicted

DRS overseer says scheme viable without glass

Humza Yousaf, left, says the DRS is not viable without glass.. David Harris says it is

The head of the body that will oversee Scotland’s controversial bottling scheme today insisted it was viable even without glass – contradicting a statement by the First Minister yesterday.

David Harris, chief executive of Circularity Scotland, said the deposit return scheme would be ready to go by next March as planned.

He said £300 million had been invested and people employed and it was an opportunity for it to become a model for other schemes across the UK.

“The removal of glass is certainly a challenge that we weren’t expecting,” he said. “But we have very quickly looked at the impact this has on the viability of the scheme and we believe that the scheme remains very viable.”

His comments counter a claim by Humza Yousaf who told reporters yesterday that the UK Government’s insistence on excluding glass would make it “extremely difficult” to go ahead. He said this was because the scheme would not raise enough money to make it viable.

He said it would put Scottish businesses at a disadvantage but did not elaborate and he denied he had misrepresented the views of Tennent’s owner C&C which said it would prefer a UK-wide scheme.

Mr Yousaf admitted that today’s Cabinet meeting to decide the scheme’s future would have to “factor in” potential compensation claims if the scheme is scrapped.

“I will not go into legal arguments around compensation but all of these issues, including the considerable investments made, will have to be considered. If we don’t go ahead we have to weigh up potential liabilities.”

As predicted by Daily Business on Sunday, UK government ministers called the First Minister’s bluff and refused to budge on the exclusion of glass from the scheme.

Mr Yousaf wrote to the Prime Minister on Saturday urging him to revoke the glass order, but Michael Gove, Alister Jack and Thérèse Coffey have replied by confirming they will not grant an exemption to the terms of the Internal Market Act which aims to create a level playing field for trade across the UK.

The ministers said there was “nothing to prevent” Scotland launching its own scheme in March next year, without the inclusion of glass.

Mr Harris said this morning: “We certainly believe the scheme is on track. We believe it is financially viable. It is an opportunity to lead the development of DRS across the UK.”

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