Highlands & Islands

Highland Licensing Board agrees new policy on off-sales

Man at fridge containing alcohol
Image caption Off-sales displays of alcohol of a certain size will be discouraged

Highland Licensing Board has agreed to introduce a new region-wide policy to control sales of alcohol.

It is to adopt a presumption against granting off-sales licences for large displays of 40 sq m (430 sq ft) and over in shops such as supermarkets.

The Scottish government has asked that all local authorities have a policy on the overprovision of alcohol.

Highland Licensing Board held public consultation on a number of options for the new policy.

Police Scotland favoured discouraging further off-sales provision in 25 areas identified by NHS Highland as having the greatest incidence of alcohol-related harm.

They include Invergordon, Dingwall, Tain, Alness, Nairn East, Lochalsh and parts of Inverness.

The other areas are Sutherland North and West, Thurso West, Thurso East, Caithness South, Skye North West, Skye South, Skye North East, Lochaber East and North.

Also Wick North, Wick South, Fort William South and Fort William North.

The parts of Inverness identified are Drummond, Kinmylies and South West, Hilton, Muirtown, Central, Raigmore and Longman, Ballifeary and Dalneigh and Merkinch.

The option that licensing board members voted for has support from Inverness, Highland and Islands Licensed Trade Association and Highland Violence Against Women Partnership.

NHS Highland has examined the issue of overprovision.

The health board has said 40.5% of the Highland population exceed weekly and, or, daily drinking limits.

It has reported that 11,400 men and 4,640 women in the health board's area were alcohol dependent.

And while alcohol-related hospital admissions have fallen, NHS Highland said the cost of dealing with the harm caused by drink was £85m in 2010-11.

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