SCOTLAND'S medics have clashed bitterly with internet sales giant Amazon over a controversial plan by the US multinational to sell alcohol from its two Scottish distribution centres.

The British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland has issued a stark warning that it will lead to a surge in hazardous drinking and increase the risks of children being able to buy it.

Applications for provisional premises licences have been made on behalf of Amazon UK Services Limited that would allow the company to sell alcohol from its 'fulfilment centres' in Gourock and Dunfermline.

The company has previously only sold alcohol from its premises south of the Border.

However, BMA Scotland has warned that handing the Seattle-based company Scottish alcohol licences would lead to an "over-provision" and whole new level of alcohol sales that could make it easier for children and those with severe drink problems to get hold of it.

Amazon has received more than £5 million in tax handouts from the Scottish Government since 2005, including almost £4m of Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) grants, through Scottish Enterprise.

However, the company's plans to sell alcohol from the state-aided business premises in Scotland is at odds with the Scottish Government's policy on alcohol of limiting alcohol consumption such as minimum pricing.

The leaders of BMA Scotland warned that the Amazon's plan would "saturate the market even further" by making alcohol overly accessible, something the body representing doctors claimed could harm public health.

BMA Scotland national director Jill Vickerman said: “It is well established that easy availability is one of the major drivers of alcohol harm, so moves like this that could saturate the market even further are a real source of concern.

“Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol carries with it a real human cost in lives lost and health damaged, to say nothing on the wider impact on families. It is essential that we are doing all that we can to reduce the levels of harm caused to our society by alcohol and addressing over-provision has to be part of that.

“It is also unclear how online alcohol retailers can reliably prevent purchases from those under the legal age. It is important that the progress that has been made in reducing under-age drinking is not lost by making access to alcohol far easier than it currently is.”

Amazon's plans have also sparked fears that it will be a "fundamental game changer " by allowing the multinational to more easily sell online large quantities of alcohol across Scotland, despite only making licence applications to the Inverclyde Board and the Fife licensing boards.

There are also fears that Amazon's home deliveries system would make it much harder to police sales of alcohol to under 18s and those who are already drunk, putting pressure on delivery drivers.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, a Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, said the plan should be blocked because of such concerns.

A publican in Fife who has objected to the plans warned that licensing authorities would be powerless to regulate Amazons's alcohol sales, which he claimed would be on a much bigger and more dangerous level than those of supermarkets.

Jeff Ellis, owner of the Bear Tavern pub in Newburgh, said: "What is significant about these applications is that they represent a potential and fundamental game changer in licensing regulation terms."

However, a Scottish Government spokesperson, ruled out the prospect of ministers intervening in the case, stating: “We have no current plans to ban online sales of alcohol and it is for individual Licensing Boards to consider any applications for a new licence, in line with the existing legislation.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Amazon follows all regulations in relation to the sale of alcohol. We operate a Challenge 25 policy for all alcohol deliveries and, if a customer appears to be under 25, they must provide proof of age, and all alcohol deliveries require a signature upon delivery.”