Department of Environment announce plastic bag levy

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Sunday, February 5th, 2012
The Department of Environment have this week announced a 5p levy on single use carrier bags. The levy will come into effect from April 2013 and will increase to 10p in April 2014. It comes following the completion of a consultation process which found significant support for the concept of carrier bag charging. Environment Minister Alex Attwood said, “There is no doubt that carrier bags are a scourge on the environment. A proposed 10 pence levy on single use carrier bags and lower cost reusable carrier bags can bring about significant environmental improvement.” Speaking after the announcement Sinn Fein Councillor Colman Burns said, “Plastic carrier bags have been a scourge on the environment for many years. Throughout our District evidence of this can be found as we see these bags along the road verges, in hedges, hanging off trees and lying in our fields. Plastic takes generations to break down so anything which tackles the problem at source, as this levy aims to do, has got to be welcomed.” Councillor Burns continued, “In June 2006, I brought a motion to Newry and Mourne Council asking that a levy, such as this, should be implemented as soon as possible. At that time, we spoke about the huge success of the levy in the 26 counties which has greatly reduced the use of plastic bags in that part of the country. There was full support from all of the Councillors for the motion. Unfortunately, we had to wait almost six years before any action was taken so, you could say, we were ahead of our time. Nonetheless, this is indeed great news and should be a huge benefit to the environment as it rolls out over the next number of years.” He added, “I have spoken to my Assembly colleague Daithi McKay who initially brought a plastic bag Act to the Assembly last year and he has confirmed that up to 10 jobs will be created by this initiative which is a welcome bonus.” Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Traders Association also commented on the new levy, saying, “It’s unclear if it is intended to discourage plastic bag use or if it is a revenue raiser. It has to do one or the other – it can’t do both.” He continued, “The Minister also needs to highlight the projected cost of this new ‘enforcement centre’ based in Derry and how much this Plastic Bag Tax will cost. NIIRTA very much wants to work with Minister Attwood on this issue to ensure we achieve the objective of reducing plastic bag usage and will be seeking an urgent meeting with him.”
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