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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tories in England are blocking carrier bag charge

Following on from my blogpost last week about the carrier bag charge in Wales, the Daily Mail carried an interesting piece yesterday in which they report that it is the Tories in the Treasury were are being accused of blocking moves to bring in the charge in English supermarkets.

They say that Liberal Democrats believe that there is conclusive proof that charging will cut the use of plastic bags, which there is, but the Treasury do not want to force a levy on supermarkets before the election because it would be unpopular with voters.

England is the only part of the UK holding out against the policy. Charges are already in effect in Wales and Northern Ireland, and Scotland is planning to introduce one next year. They believe households would hate it, and that that is more important than the environmental consequences:

The Mail’s Banish the Bags campaign has highlighted their devastating impact on the environment and wildlife.

Plastic carrier bags from supermarkets are used for an average of just 20 minutes, but survive for hundreds of years, littering the landscape and killing marine animals that eat or get tangled in them.

In Wales, where a 5p levy has been in place for over a year, there has been an 81 per cent drop in usage as shoppers take their own bags to stores.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is officially still examining the evidence from Wales.

Figures this month revealed the number of bags handed out by supermarkets in England has soared by more than 12 per cent in two years, to seven billion.

While the issue has divided Coalition ministers, some Conservative MPs, including Zac Goldsmith, David Cameron’s former green adviser, support a levy.

Yesterday a Lib Dem source said: ‘It is still something the party supports, as do many Tories, but there is no movement from the Treasury on it.’

A Treasury source said: ‘There are arguments for and against it. All options are being discussed.

I think that Treasury quote just about sums it up.
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