Scottish Government reportedly being sued for £100m of lost deposit return scheme investment

Lorna Slater’s troubled deposit return scheme is facing a £100 million legal threat, it has been reported.
Green minister Lorna Slater (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Green minister Lorna Slater (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Green minister Lorna Slater (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The Scottish Government is reportedly facing a £100 million legal threat from a waste firm over investment made for the troubled deposit return scheme.

According to reports, Biffa is threatening to sue the Scottish Government in an attempt to try and recover the investment it made in the scheme that has been delayed.

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Lorna Slater, the Scottish Government’s circular economy minister, was forced to delay the deposit return scheme to align with a UK-wide strategy after the UK government refused to give an exemption to the Internal Market Act to allow glass to be included, despite Tory ministers initially supporting the use of glass. The UK government has suggested the rollout will now be pushed back from 2025 to at least 2027.

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Scottish Government fury as UK-wide Deposit Return Scheme is pushed back to 2027

According to the Sunday Mail, Biffa purchased almost 200 new trucks and had started recruiting staff when the scheme was delayed last June.A source with knowledge of the Biffa claim told the paper: “A huge investment was made in preparing for this contract and assurances were given that it would be going ahead.

“When it was cancelled, Biffa lost a ­significant amount of money and has no choice but to try and recover some of that from the ­Scottish Government given it was their scheme and they were responsible for it.”

The Scottish Government hoped to restart the scheme when England and Wales launched their own versions in 2025.But the UK ­government has now delayed it for two more years, leading to Ms Slater writing to Environment Secretary Steve Barclay on Thursday, as exclusively revealed by The Scotsman.

The scheme aimed to boost recycling rates by charging a 20p deposit on all glass and plastic drink containers which would be reclaimed when empty containers were returned.

Former SNP rural affairs minister, Fergus Ewing, told the Sunday Mail the potential lawsuit was “shocking”.

He added: “They must answer how many more tens of millions of pounds the bottle scheme will cost the taxpayer.”

The Scottish Govern­ment said it wouldn’t comment on a legal threat from Biffa but stressed it was “committed to the delivery of a successful deposit return scheme.”



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