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Highland LibDem MP Jamie Stone seeking answers on Deposit Return Scheme as it faces the axe

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Highland MP Jamie Stone has demanded answers from the Scottish Government about the costs associated with legal advice and civil servants' time for the Deposit Return Scheme.

The Freedom of Information request seeks details on how many government departments are involved in creating the recycling scheme as well as internal communication on the issue between the department for environment and climate change and First Minister Humza Yousaf.

The FOI comes in light of the rumours that the DRS - announced in 2018 and originally supposed to be implemented in 2021 before being pushed back to August this year and then further delayed to next March - is heading towards collapse before the end of the month.

The minister for circular economy Lorna Slater said that, if the UK government does not allow for an exemption from the Internal Markets Act the Scotland only scheme will rendered "unviable."

Westminster responded that UK ministers are unlikely to will reach an early decision on any exemption as it only received the application in March. A spokesperson said: "It hasn't been possible yet for us to fully assess the impacts of the exclusion request on cross-UK trade, firms and consumers."

Mr Stone said: "The Scottish people deserve to know just how much public money has been squandered on this project, and they deserve to know exactly where the First Minister stands on it.

"To try and blame the scheme's failure on Westminster won't fly this time. Working together with the UK government is the only way to ensure that lessons from Brexit are learned, and trade barriers on both sides of the Berwick border are avoided."

Mr Yousaf said: "If we don't get it this month we have been told by Circularity Scotland, the operator of the scheme, that the scheme could be unviable. There's no reason for the UK government not to grant that exemption."

Among those against the scheme as it stands is Highland MSP Fergus Ewing who has slated the DRS as "a textbook example of how not to govern," adding: "Some small businesses would close others would fail and some would cease selling in their own country."

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