Question on alcohol: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

‘How come you can't buy alcohol free drinks (for example becks blue) from say somewhere like home bargains before 10am yet I can drink alcohol at the airport at 4am? Or I can drink on a plane in the sky before 10am? I can understand that rule for selling actual alcohol but I can't understand the logic when it's non alcoholic. What are the rules surrounding festivals, concerts etc?’


Sale of alcohol free/ non-alcoholic drinks before 10am
The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 (“the 2005 Act”) sets out the legal framework which underpins the alcohol licensing regime in Scotland. In terms of the 2005 Act, the definition of alcohol does not include “alcohol which is of a strength of 0.5% or less at the time of its sale”. If the non-alcoholic beverage has 0.5% alcohol or less then it is not subject to the provisions of the 2005 Act and a retailer can sell the product outside the hours set out in their premises licence/ operating plan for selling alcohol.

However, I understand that some retailers chose not to do so to ensure staff do not inadvertently confuse alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Thus avoiding the possibility of selling alcohol to those under age or outside licensing hours (10am – 10pm). The Scottish Government believes it is important that people have access to alternatives to alcohol, such as non-alcoholic beer, but it is entirely a matter for individual businesses to determine their own policies for the sale of non-alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol sales at airports
Under the 2005 Act premises are required to hold a premises licence in order to sell alcohol. However certain premises are exempted at section 124 of the 2005 Act, including airside (beyond security controls)
establishments at designated airports. The Licensing (Designated Airports) (Scotland) Order 2007 designates these airports. Meaning that airside premises at 6 Scottish airports including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick do not require a liquor premises licence. As a result the 2005 Act restrictions on multi-buys, restrictions on off-sales between 10am and 10pm etc do not apply to these airside premises.

Rules surrounding festivals, concerts etc
To hold outdoor concerts the event organiser may have to obtain a public entertainment licence from the local council. The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (“the 1982 Act”) provides for a variety of licensing
regimes, and local authorities have considerable scope to determine whether and how these apply, consider individual applications and whether to attach conditions to licences. This allows councillors to take local views and concerns into account.

While the Scottish Government is responsible for regulating the powers of Scottish local authorities in relation to licensing, the day to day responsibility for the administration of the licensing regimes in Scotland rests with individual local authorities. All councils have wide discretion to determine appropriate licensing arrangements according to their own legal advice, and it is entirely at their discretion which types of entertainment they wish to licence, and whether to permit the sale of alcohol etc.

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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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