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Whitehall accused of being 'lukewarm' over environment

Scotland is being held back by a “reluctant” UK Government on green issues and the circular economy (CE), according to their environment minister.

MRW exclusive

Speaking to MRW, Richard Lochhead, left, also confirmed that Scotland will soon set out its own proposals for a CE roadmap.

Elaborating on comments he made at an industry conference in London on 25 June, he said it was a “continual frustration” that Westminster’s lack of enthusiasm for environmental issues prevented Scotland from realising its ambitions.

Lochhead told MRW he had written to the Government in December 2014 calling on it to urge the European Commission to retain its original CE proposals. He said he got no answer ahead of the package being withdrawn.

“In my experience, that sort of lukewarm response is fairly typical of how the UK Government engages with the environmental agenda in Brussels,” he said.

“I’ve got the impression that any UK support is often reluctant – making the UK the weak link in the momentum that is building here in Scotland and right across Europe in relation to the CE.”

Lochhead said the Scottish Government was recognised internationally as a leader in tackling climate change and that its ambition on recycling, landfill bans and waste prevention closely mirrored the original CE proposals.

“The CE could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the Scottish economy… [and] can bring a vast economic opportunity within our grasp.”

Defra has been asked to comment on the minister’s statements.

Lochhead also detailed Scotland’s upcoming CE roadmap proposals which included:

  • setting out business opportunities
  • addressing skills needed for a CE
  • aligning action on climate change with action for a CE
  • ensuring that Scotland’s recycling systems are fit for purpose to support the economic opportunities

Lochhead’s earlier comments about the relationship between the Governments came at the joint CIWM/ESA/RA conference when he announced a voluntary household recycling charter for Scottish authorities.

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