THE UK Government has been accused of showing “utter disregard for devolution” as the row over the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) deepens.

On Friday morning, the BBC reported that the UK Government is likely to issue a “conditional agreement” that would permit Scotland to run a pilot of a UK-wide deposit return scheme.

It comes after weeks of a bitter dispute between the two governments over whether or not the DRS will be given an exemption to the UK Internal Market Act to allow it to go ahead.

However, ministers are now expected to require glass bottles to be excluded from the scheme, which was a key strand of the Scottish Government’s policy.

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Circular economy minister Lorna Slater, who is spearheading the policy, said she saw “no justification” for the UK Government’s actions, that Scottish ministers had not been told of any decision and said the Scottish Parliament was being treated “with contempt”.

Earlier, Deputy First Minister Shona Robison told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland that the UK Government was “interfering”.

Scottish Greens minister Slater (pictured below) blasted the UK Government on Friday morning after reports emerged.

“Once again the UK Government has shown utter disregard for devolution,” she said.

“Scottish ministers have, as yet, received no notice of their decision.

The National: Lorna Slater

“This is treating the Scottish Parliament with contempt.

“If press reports are accurate, this would be an eleventh-hour decision from the UK Government to unilaterally remove glass from Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme which would ride roughshod over the devolution settlement, undermine our efforts to protect our environment and reduce climate emissions.

“We can see no justification for their reported actions, which would undermine their own climate targets.”

Slater said that if glass is removed, around six hundred million bottles that would have been collected through the scheme will be excluded, despite the investment businesses had already made in preparation for the scheme going ahead.

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“If this decision turns out as reported, many of these bottles would unnecessarily end up as broken glass on our streets, our parks and our beaches,” Slater added.

"We remain committed to the delivery of a successful Deposit Return Scheme, but we would need to fully consider the implications for the successful delivery of the scheme and discuss these with businesses and delivery partners. I intend to provide an update to parliament as soon as possible.”

The BBC reports that other conditions on the DRS that could be imposed on Scotland include standardising the deposit charge, bar codes and labelling across the UK.

Aileen McHarg, professor in public law and human rights at the University of Durham, shared the BBC report, adding: "If ever you needed proof that the UK Internal Market Act amounted to a vehicle for the recentralisation of power, here it is."

It has also been suggested that the UK will insist on a “reciprocal membership system” so that businesses who join anywhere in the UK re automatically signed up across all four nations.

"It is an outrage that in an area that is fully devolved that the UK government and the Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack would seek to interfere yet again in a scheme that is wholly devolved for no other reason really than because they can,” Robison told the BBC.

She added: "We will look at what comes back from the UK Government."

The DRS, which is aimed at increasing the number of single-use cans and bottles which are recycled, was due to begin in August but has now been delayed until March next year.

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The Scotland Office has been contacted for comment.

It comes after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack claimed that Scottish Government ministers had not provided the correct paperwork on time to allow for an exemption for the Internal Market Act.

Slater refuted this in the Holyrood chamber last week, and said UK officials had asked for additional paperwork, which had been provided.

A row also broke out over which government would pay compensation to businesses if the scheme collapsed.