Concerned Scottish Brewers write open letter to Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham on Deposit Return

A group of small brewers from across Scotland have today (10 December 2019) written an open letter to the Scottish Government on the proposed Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

This comes as the consultation for the regulations on DRS is due to close today. As currently designed the Scottish DRS will have major implications for small breweries selling independent craft beer in Scotland.

Commenting on the letter, Barry Watts, Head of Public Affairs at SIBA said:

“Small independent brewers are conscious of their environmental impact and are constantly looking for ways to increase their sustainability. But they have real concerns about how the Scottish DRS is currently designed.

“Breweries fear it will impose unsustainable costs, threaten the future of their businesses and ultimately reduce the choice and availability of independent craft beer in Scotland; now is the chance for the Scottish Government to make changes to the scheme before it is too late.”

The 26 small independent brewers based in Scotland have signed the following joint letter to Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.

A Deposit Return Scheme for Scotland

Dear Roseanna

As small independent brewers we make some of the best beer available in Scotland which is enjoyed by drinkers across our country and beyond.

Our breweries are an important part of our local communities. We care about our country and its future and want Scotland to be a sustainable place to live and work. We also care about the environment and want to do our part to improve it.

However, we are deeply concerned that the deposit return scheme (DRS) as it is currently designed will have major implications for the future of our small businesses and the choice of beer available in Scottish communities. Without changes it will threaten our livelihoods, local jobs and the pubs, bars and shops that we serve.

DRS needs to take account of the size of the business because a scheme designed for global brands cannot work for the small producer. We urge you to consider tiered registration fees and producer fees along with de-minis thresholds. This could be based on the methodology used for the Small Breweries’ Relief which provides support for small independent brewers in the UK.

For DRS to be successful, it is likely that a Scottish only SKU will be required on the label. Producing small runs of different labels is very costly for small brewers and we would urge you to consider what support can be provided. We would like to see a cost-effective way to avoid having to place expensive labels of small runs of cans and bottles.

The Scottish Government has established an ambitious timetable for the introduction of DRS in 2021. The proposed implementation period is a short time for small businesses such as ourselves to prepare. If DRS is implemented quickly, it may result in business failure and reduced consumer choice. Given that Westminster is planning to introduce its own scheme it would be sensible to delay the implementation so that there can be one scheme for the whole of the UK.

This is a critical time for small businesses in Scotland, who are facing a multitude of uncertainty from Brexit and other issues. We do not want the DRS to be the tipping point for our businesses and want to work with you to ensure it is a success.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this matter further or for you to visit one of our breweries to see for yourself the challenges we face.

Yours sincerely


John Anderson

Owner, Red Castle Brewery


Andrew Barnett

Director, Barneys Beer


Tim Butler

Director, St Andrews Brewing Company


Stuart Cail

Master Brewer, Harviestoun Brewery


Jamie Delap

Managing Director, Fyne Ales


Nick Fleming

Managing Director, Ovenstone 109


Kathryn Herculson

Brewery Manager, Lerwick Brewery


Lucy Hicks

Director, Glenspean Brewing


Rob Hill

Head Brewer, Swannay Brewery


Dave Lannigan

Head Brewer, Ride Brewing Co


Fiona Maceachern

Managing Director, Loch Lomond Brewery


Tommy Martin

Black Wolf Brewery


Bob Masson

Director, Dog Falls Brewing Co


David McGowan

Director, Broughton Ales


Rob McKinnon

Director, Loomshed Brewery


Annika Meiklejohn

Director & Co-owner, Tempest Brewing Co


Gerald Michaluk

Director, Arran Brewery


Karen Moore

Office Manager, Kelburn Brewery


Bill Paterson

Director, Fintry Brewing Company


Allan Rimmer

Co-founder, Merchant City Brewing Co


Kate Russell

Director, Inner Bay Brewery


Alastair Scoular

Director, Five Kingdoms Brewery


Christie Slater

Director, Loch Leven Brewery


Jo Stewart

Co-founder, Stewart Brewing


Nigel Tiddy

Managing Director, Windswept Brewing Co


Kenny Webster

Managing Director, Isle of Skye Brewing Co

Related posts

SIBA launches Beerflex

Direct Delivery Scheme evolves in response to growing demand for quality independent beers The...

Robert Humphreys awarded MBE

All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group and SIBA praise his achievements Robert Humphreys, formerly the Honorary...

SIBA supports Tryanuary

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) is supporting Tryanuary, the new initiative that encourages...