Exclusive:Lorna Slater insists she will 'not see repeat' of deposit return scheme as she defends circular economy talks

Lorna Slater has insisted the internal market issues with the deposit return scheme will not be repeated.

Lorna Slater has called for the UK government to “manage divergence” between nations bringing forward environmental policies “in a manner that respects devolution”.

The Greens co-leader has hit back at criticism thrown her way by the Scottish Conservatives over ensuring her Circular Economy (Scotland) Bill does not get halted due to the UK Internal Market Act (IMA). The IMA requires a level playing field and prevents any trade barriers across the UK nations.

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Ms Slater, the Scottish Government’s circular economy minister, was criticised for not yet having “a specific discussion” with independent advisers, the Office for the Internal Market (OIM).

Minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, Lorna Slater. Picture: PAMinister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, Lorna Slater. Picture: PA
Minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, Lorna Slater. Picture: PA

But Ms Slater has stressed the framework legislation she is bringing forward “does not contain any provision which would trigger” the IMA, and said the OIM had “no formal role in approving legislation”.

Her legislation would give ministers the powers to introduce a range of policies, including the restricting or banning on single-use items, but that would require separate secondary legislation at a later date.

In a letter to Tory MSP Maurice Golden, seen by The Scotsman, Ms Slater has warned the Internal Market Act “has the potential to radically undermine laws passed by Scotland’s democratically elected Parliament”.

She said: “Further consideration will, of course, need to be given to the IMA when and where powers under the Bill are exercised.

“At the point powers may be exercised under the Bill, any potential impact on the operation of the UK’s internal market can and will be addressed through the common framework process. We have already highlighted the Circular Economy Bill to the other UK administrations through the relevant common framework.

“Having reached agreement on policy divergence though the common framework process, an exclusion to the IMA should be given effect, in line with the assurances offered in both Houses of Parliament by UK government ministers in December 2020.”

She said “we hope that all parties to the common framework will seek to manage divergence by agreement and in a manner that respects devolution, and that we will not see a repeat of the deposit return scheme (DRS) experience where the work of the common framework was largely ignored by the UK government”.



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