Scotland’s DRS will mean cleaner streets and communities


Lorna Slater, Scottish Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lothian MSP and Scottish Greens co-leader writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.

It has been 20 years since I first arrived in Scotland. I was instantly struck by the beauty of our landscapes and the character of our towns and cities.

I quickly fell in love with this fantastic country, the community I found here, and the incredible natural environments that make Scotland so special.

Yet, even the most iconic parks and beaches are so often blighted by waste and rubbish. Broken glass and plastic bottles are all too common, even in our most wonderful beauty spots.

It’s one reason why Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme is so important to me, and why we are determined to deliver it.

This scheme will be good for Scotland, for the beauty of our communities, for our natural environments, and for our climate goals.

The Scheme, which will go live on August 16, is very simple. We will pay a 20p deposit when buying drinks in cans or bottles. We will then get the 20p back when we return them to one of the thousands of drop-off points that will be available.

That’s why, as we get closer to the launch date, I’ve been imagining the empty cans I see littered across our streets and parks are 20p pieces waiting to be picked up.

We know that deposit return systems are extremely effective at reducing waste and improving the quality of recycled materials. They have been tried many times already – with over 40 in operation today across Europe and beyond.

This is evidenced by successful schemes in place around the world which have boasted massive hikes in recycling rates, significant reductions in litter, and recycled materials that are actually safe for reuse.

They aren’t even new in Scotland, with many over a certain age remembering how they used to return empty Irn Bru bottles to reclaim some change.

The vast majority of the drinks you see in the fridges at supermarkets are already covered, with companies covering over 90% of the market having signed up to the Scheme.

Over the months ahead I will be working closely with those who are yet to join it, so that we can ensure the widest possible participation.

The system follows a ‘polluter pays’ framework, which rightly holds producers responsible for the costs of their operation – a huge shift away from a business model that sees 44,000 bottles being discarded every day in Scotland alone.

With only five months to go, it has been so encouraging to see so much infrastructure taking shape while our scheme is coming to life.

In the last few weeks I have been proud to announce DRS facilities in Motherwell and Aberdeen, which will count, sort and bale the billions of drinks containers collected through the scheme.

These two sites alone will create over 200 new and high quality jobs, with more to be announced in the weeks ahead.

Despite the encouraging signs, this is also a test of devolution, with the Secretary of State for Scotland having undermined the scheme through a series of media reports and statements.

The UK government has announced its own scheme which will be less ambitious and does not include glass.

We are currently working with them to ensure that we secure an exemption to the Internal Market Act and that our scheme is as robust as it can be.

We are in a climate emergency and the longer the wait for a Deposit Return Scheme, the longer that waste will fill our streets, natural spaces, and seas.

With less than five months until launch day, I am confident that our scheme will cut waste, boost recycling and play a key role in Scotland’s push for Net Zero.

East Lothian health board reject council funding offer


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Health board members in East Lothian have rejected a reduced council funding offer after being told it did not meet Scottish Government expectations.

This follows news last week when Midlothian Health board were urged to reject council funding cut.

Health and social care services in East Lothian are jointly funded through the board with grants from the local authority and NHS Lothian each year.

However East Lothian Integration Joint Board (IJB), which oversees the services, was told the council had, for the first time this year, decided to reduce the funding by £250,000.

Their chief finance officer Claire Flanagan told them the offer of just under £65.5million had no ‘additionality’ in it, which was not in line with the parameters set by Scottish Government.

And she said she had no choice but to ask board members to reject the offer.

She told members: “I would be doing the IJB a disservice and would not be doing by job if I did not recommend the offer is rejected.”

A virtual meeting of the board which is made up of elected councillors and NHS Lothian and health representatives, heard the council faced huge financial pressure in the year ahead and had cut funding to services across the board.

Councillor Lyn Jardine told board members: “There has been pain across the board and the burden has been shared in terms of the council’s financial situation .”

Councillor Shamin Akhtar, board member and deputy leader of East Lothian Council, pointed out the local authority had stepped up in the past to support the IJB when it was struggling financially as she urged fellow board members not to follow the recommendations of their chief finance officer.

However the chairperson of the IJB Peter Murray reminded members that they were there to represent the board and make decision which are best for it.

He said: “The support the IJB has received from the council over the years is not in dispute, however to put the offer in context we have to acknowledge our responsibilities we are responsible for and each member will have to make a decision on their responsibility to this board.”

The board voted by four members to three to accept the recommendation not to accept the funding offer by the council with all three elected councillors voting against the decision.

Members were told the decision would mean finance officers would go back to the council for further talks with an update expected to be brought back to the board next month.

Swing into spring with some ‘Healthy Know How’


Orla aged seven and Finn aged five from Mayfield, Dalkeith.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

NHS 24 have launched their annual spring health campaign ‘Healthy Know How.’ The campaign encourages people in Scotland to make appropriate use of NHS services and to be prepared for common illnesses and ailments over the spring holidays.

The ‘Healthy Know How’ campaign uses TV, radio and digital advertising and promotes health advice and tips featuring the character Billy, along with his son Willy, pet cat Pumpkin and neighbour Molly.

Orla aged seven and Finn aged five both from Mayfield, Dalkeith, were on hand to launch the campaign in Conifox Adventure Park, Kirkliston. The children, who both attend Mayfield Primary School, had a fun time utilising Conifox’s play equipment, but also highlighting the need to be prepared for childhood bumps and scrapes over the upcoming school Easter holidays. Orla’s little sister, Anya aged two, also assisted in the campaign by enjoying some Easter eggs.

Healthy Know How tips include:

– Check your repeat prescription, order only what you need, in plenty of time

– Keep some medicines to treat common illnesses at home

– If you become unwell, NHS inform has useful symptom checkers to help you decide what to do next

– Be aware that your GP practice and local pharmacy may have amended opening hours over the Easter weekend

NHS 24’s Head of Pharmacy and Associate Clinical Director, Dr John McAnaw, said:

“As we transition into spring and the weather improves, it can be easy to forget that seasonal illnesses such as colds, flus, and sickness bugs are still around.

“By being prepared with some Healthy Know How, you can help ensure that common ailments such as these don’t become a bigger problem over the Easter holidays.

“One way to plan ahead is to check you have some over-the-counter remedies available such as pain relief, antihistamines, and anti-diarrhoeals to deal with any illnesses that might pop up out the blue. As the kids are off school, it’s also a good idea to have a basic first aid kit with plasters, antiseptic and bandages in the house in case of any injuries or mishaps.

“If you are on prescribed medication, check how much medication you already have and ensure you have enough to last over the bank holiday weekend. If you require additional supplies, be aware that GP practices and pharmacies need time to process requests, so you should allow time for that.

“Although many GP practices and pharmacies will have amended opening hours over the Easter weekend, remember that NHS inform has lots of helpful advice that can help you deal with any symptoms of minor illness, or point you in the right direction to get the right care in the right place if you need it.

“By following these simple steps we can all do our bit to ensure that ourselves and our families are happy and healthy over the Easter holidays.”