Plastic bag charge to be introduced in England

 

Ed Davey: "Try to avoid this charge, we want you to re-use your plastic bags"

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A 5p charge for plastic bags in England is to be introduced by the government in a bid to discourage their use.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to unveil the plans at the Liberal Democrat party conference this weekend.

Ministers are said to be concerned at the environmental impact of the bags, particularly on waterborne animals.

The charge, which will only apply to supermarkets and larger stores, will begin after the 2015 election, with the proceeds going to charities.

A similar charge applying to the single-use carrier bags made from both plastic and paper is already in effect in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland's Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, this week announced he was not going ahead with plans to raise the levy to 10p per bag, because the present arrangements were proving successful.

He said data from major supermarkets showed there had been an 80% reduction in plastic bag use since the levy was brought in.

Retailers in Scotland will start charging for bags in October 2014.

According to Liberal Democrat sources, the charge in Wales, which began in 2011, has seen the use of plastic bags drop by roughly 75%.

Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said his party had faced opposition to the scheme from the Conservatives.

He said the charge would only raise "pretty small amounts" for charity, as its intention was to get people to reduce the amount they use.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: "It is a huge environmental step forward.

'Tough times'

"We are very clear that none of this money will come to government, we are not trying to tax people, we are trying to change people's behaviour, encourage much more environmentally-friendly behaviour."

Start Quote

This small step will do little to tackle the nation's huge waste mountain ”

End Quote Craig Bennett Friends of the Earth

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said there was enthusiasm for the plans among major retailers but there had been opposition from government colleagues.

Speaking on a visit to Cathkin Marsh nature reserve, near Glasgow, he said that plastic bags were often used for just a few minutes but "take 1,000 years to degrade".

He said: "That's not just bad for the environment, they are a terrible eyesore on our beautiful countryside. They cause a lot of suffering for animals, particularly marine wildlife."

Mr Clegg said he hoped any money raised by the levy would be donated to environmental charities.

He added: "Of course there are debates in government on something like this, this is a big change. But it's one that I was very keen to do and I think we will now do it - not overnight, it will happen by the end of 2015.

"But I think very quickly, just as in the way people are accepting it in Wales where there has been an up to 80% drop in the use of plastic bags, people will get used to it and support it."

Andy Walker from the campaign group, Keep Britain Tidy, said that free plastic bags came with a "cost to the environment".

"Our supporters up and down the country end up cleaning bags from water courses, from beaches, from the High Street... so we believe it'll reduce the incidence of bags there," he said.

"But it will also influence behaviour change - people will start to take reusable bags with them to the supermarket and that will actually make a big difference to the environment."

But Matthew Sinclair, from the Taxpayers' Alliance, said the charge was an unnecessary measure that would have little impact on overall waste.

"This is not just a small share of waste, this is a tiny share of waste," he said.

"And I don't think that for every problem the answer is a new tax.

Supermarket checkout Supermarkets have already been encouraging customers to reduce their use of carrier bags

"There are already a number of different schemes to encourage people to think about using reusable bags, there are other schemes which involve using the carrot rather than the stick of a new tax."

Craig Bennett, policy and campaigns director of Friends of the Earth, said: "A plastic bag charge is welcome news, but let's not get carried away.

"This small step will do little to tackle the nation's huge waste mountain and can't disguise the government's woeful green record."

He said tougher action and ambitious targets were needed to to cut waste, boost recycling and "bring England in line with the rest of the UK and much of Europe".

BBC political correspondent Robin Brant said ministers acknowledged that shoppers may be unhappy about the prospect of the charge in what are "tough times" but the coalition believed it needed to tackle their use.

A number of supermarkets already encourage customers to limit their use of carrier bags by giving them loyalty points for providing their own. Marks & Spencer charges 5p for its plastic carrier bags, donating the profits to charities and education projects, but still gives out smaller bags.

Charities involved in clearing up the environmental damage caused by plastic bags will benefit from money raised by the new charge.

Groups such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage have long called for a charge. They said plastic bags littered England's streets and countryside.

The bags, they say, have proved harmful to wildlife which become entangled in them or think they are food.

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1113.

    Large, sturdy and long-term bags have been widely and cheaply available across every supermarket chain in England for years.

    Yet, this charge has received much support?

    So, society is going to start utilising a long-standing service that it's always wanted to use but has avoided because of the lack of motivation from a small silver-coloured circle piece of metal?

    Well - if that's what it takes!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1112.

    579.Gloops
    5 Hours ago
    Now all we've got to do is stop supermarkets packaging anything and everything in plastic. Is it really necessary to shrink wrap a cucumber?
    =
    It is if you have to fly the thing in from Ghana how environmentally friendly is that!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1111.

    I use home delivery and they put my goods in a lot more bags than I would have done. Does this mean I have to pay for however many bags they use? I used to take my own bags when I could get to the shops and they gave a (very small) refund for any bags you had brought. .

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1110.

    Paper or plastic bags both use dwindling resources, take your own bags, they're generally stronger and hold more stuff.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1109.

    People are suggesting paper bags as a better alternative, but what happens when your bulging bags get wet in the rain or from a leakage?-They fall apart. Just saying.
    It seemed to become "uncool" in the 80s to use a permanent shopping bag; plastic store carrier bags becoming desirable, perversely.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1108.

    Sad to see so many lazy ppl can't be bothered to take a bag out with them to the shops. Get with the program, most of you are quite happy to go in and spend a small fortune on junk food but you can't afford to buy a bag for life. A bit pathetic really.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1107.

    This is long overdue. It is so unnecessary to use mountains of plastic bags. How difficult is it to keep some cotton/canvas ones in your car boot for the large shop and a little one in your bag for the odd small item?!

    They cause untold suffering to wildlife that becomes tangled in them or tries to eat them. We must reduce this and the revolting environmental pollution plastic bags cause.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1106.

    Do the Lib Dems ever have a policy that doesn't entail more tax?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1105.

    1095.Lou Macari Chipshop
    1095 is an Editors' Pick
    instead of charging for plastic bags, wouldn't a better incentive be a discount on your shopping if you don't use them.


    ++
    What a wonderful idea, why dont you dress up & take your idea & go visit supermarkets main offices & explain it to them, maybe they could give store card points 5 points = 5p per own bag, or maybe just laugh at you

  • Comment number 1104.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1103.

    1075 Then the solution is to stop being lazy and go to the shop yourself.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1102.

    Hopefully this is just the start. Far too many people think that packaging can be discarded without thought as soon as they have finished with the contents. I also think that demographics need to be looked at too as there is far more litter pro rata in the densely populated areas than in the not so densely populated areas. But then it does take intelligence to be responsible for your packaging.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1101.

    Biodegradable plastic made from potato starch has been available for ages. You could actually eat them! Why turn the clock back. People use bags because they are convenient and what is so wrong with convenient.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1100.

    This will make little practical difference to the environment as most people will use more petrol driving to the shops than will ever be saved from not manufacturing plastic bags. Worse, it will give people a self-righteous glow that they're "making a difference". It's designed to boost shops' profits by not needing them to supply bags - instead of compelling them to provide paper ones as in USA

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1099.

    So now let us find reason to discourage folks from use of whatever goods and services we each provide. Condolences to all those and their dependants who are now suffering because they are displaced from a livelihood in the manufacture of plastic bags. Beware this could soon happen to you.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1098.

    5p per bag - great idea. Better still, take your own re-useable bag. I'm sick of seeing supermarket bags snagged in bushes, floating in rivers and skulking in the sea. Role out charges for excess packaging - but I'm not sure we can we trust the money raised to find its way to helping the environment. Plastic bag manufacturers won't like it but what do they do to clean their mess up - nothing.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1097.

    Charging 5p for the shopping bag doesn't seem to change peoples’ behavior. In Sports Direct I saw customer paying 99p n 79p for Bag for Life n rarely any1 brings those bags on their next shopping. These bags contaminate the environment very badly n which is happening at an alarming rate. Best solution would b banning all plastic bags and Introduce paper bags or use bags which r biodegradable

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 1096.

    Foolhardy plan. Everyone is going to stockpile bags now. Totally not thought out. Took 20 odd bags from the supermarket today!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1095.

    instead of charging for plastic bags, wouldn't a better incentive be a discount on your shopping if you don't use them.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1094.

    1080. fritz
    ...good idea in away..but the bag will still have the brand of the supermarket on the bag...


    Turn it inside out as a mate of mine doe, he also ask's for a refund when he takes the bags back says the don't suit his outfit.

 

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  68.  
    11:34: Wales Office questions House of Commons Parliament

    Questions to Wales Office ministers are just starting in the Commons. Topics include the labour market in Wales, the tourism sector, the Severn Barrage, and healthcare provision across the border between Wales and England.

     
  69.  
    11:34: Farage speech on immigration

    "In the most overcrowded country in Europe... we have to build one new dwelling every seven minutes just to cope with current levels of immigration," Mr Farage adds. He says he knows an unlimited supply of unskilled labour and open door immigration have been a boon for the very wealthy - which he says have done well from cheaper nannies and chauffeurs and gardeners - and businesses which "have kept wages artificially low."

     
  70.  
    11:23: New cash for energy saving scheme announced

    Energy Secretary Ed Davey has announced the launch of a new £70m tranche of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund from Monday 16 March. He's been speaking to Money Saving Expert, and said up to £5,600 will be available to households in England and Wales to help with the costs of installing energy saving improvements. The money off vouchers will be available on a first-come first-served basis. The fund offers cashback and incentives on such things as double-glazing, insulation and boilers.

     
  71.  
    11:29: Farage speech on immigration

    "The big debate in the 1970s was whether we could accommodate 28,000 migrants from Uganda... but we did and they turned out to be one of the most successful migrant groups in our history," Mr Farage says.

     
  72.  
    11:28: Farage speech on immigration

    "We don't want mass immigration to continue as it is... we need better controls over our borders," Mr Farage says. He claims UKIP has a common sense policy on immigration. He adds UKIP is the only party that will talk honestly about immigration, which he says is the number one issue for most voters. He claims the current policy discriminates against skilled migrants from India and other parts of the Commonwealth in favour of unskilled migrants from southern and eastern Europe.

     
  73.  
    11:28: Pic: Farage speech
    Nigel Farage
     
  74.  
    11:23: Farage speech

    Mr Farage claims net migration levels used to sit at around 30,000 a year - he said earlier that he was referring to figures from the 1950s to the late 1990s. He continues by saying there is nothing wrong with wanting to control immigration, saying "we want to do what the Australians do". He claims an influx of unskilled migrants has also meant that for many the "minimum wage has become the maximum wage".

     
  75.  
    11:23: Farage speech on immigration

    "It is perhaps no wonder that 77% of the British public want us to take back control of our borders," says Mr Farage as he makes his opening salvo in his immigration speech. He then starts to link the pressure on services including the NHS and pressure on communities to immigration too.

     
  76.  
    11:23: Today in the Commons House of Commons Parliament

    The day in the House of Commons begins in a few minutes' time, as MPs put questions to the Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb. Shortly after 12.00 GMT, Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband face each other for Prime Minister's Questions.

     
  77.  
    11:21: Red-Green alliance?

    Tory MP Dominic Raab has laid into the Green party on the Conservativehome blog. He calls the party's policies dangerous and irresponsible. He also warns the Greens "may threaten Labour most. But, that wouldn't stop them forming a Red-Green alliance that draws from the most economically and socially irresponsible agenda presented by any UK party for a generation".

     
  78.  
    11:11: Guardian election poll

    The Guardian's latest election poll projects the Conservatives will win 277 seats at the general election, Labour 271, the SNP 51, the Lib Dems 25, UKIP 4, the Greens 1.

     
  79.  
    11:10: "Plebgate"

    In November former chief whip Andrew Mitchell lost his High Court libel action against News Group Newspapers over a story in the Sun in 2012 which claimed he called PC Toby Rowland a "pleb" during a row about whether he could cycle out of the main gates in Downing Street. Mr Mitchell acknowledged that he had used bad language but maintained he had not used that word. Delivering his ruling, Mr Justice Mitting said he was satisfied that the MP did say the word "pleb". PC Toby Rowland counter-sued Mr Mitchell over the claims, hence today's settlement.

     
  80.  
    11:07: "Plebgate" payout
    Andrew MItchell

    If you're a little behind the times on the "Plebgate" row or it it passed you by somehow then the BBC has a handy timeline, which should take you through it all.

     
  81.  
    10:51: Plebgate pay out

    It's been a long and tangled tale, the plebgate saga. Here's our news story on the latest development - the £80,000 pay out by Andrew Mitchell to Pc Toby Rowland. We'll be building it up as more details come in.

     
  82.  
    10:45: 'Job isn't done' BBC News Channel

    Business Minister Matthew Hancock begins his interview rather like his boss did earlier by avoiding the question raised by the IFS report about the divergence in fortunes between young and old. "It's a big moment. This is very big news," he says, hailing the positives. But he goes on to say: "The job isn't done. We're moving in the right direction." He adds that the government doesn't "care about the data" but about individual people.

     
  83.  
    @matthewchampion Matthew champion, news editor at i100

    tweets: attention residents of Thurrock: do not buy any walls today.

     
  84.  
    @David_Cameron David Cameron
    David Cameron buidling a wall

    tweets: Seeing homes being built by @barrattplc in Thurrock. 95% will be sold to first time buyers with Help to Buy mortgages

     
  85.  
    @BiteTheBallot Bite the Ballot, movement to encourage young voters

    tweets: A third of people who registered to vote on #NVRD were aged 16-24: are you registered?

     
  86.  
    10:34: HSBC tax scandal

    Yup it's true, we've checked. John Humphreys did in fact ask George Osborne the same question six times as Ed Balls has claimed. In case you missed it, it was did he [the chancellor] speak to Lord Green about the allegations that HSBC clients had evaded tax before the government appointed him as a trade minister?

     
  87.  
    Breaking News

    From the Press Association: Pc Toby Rowland, the police officer at the centre of the notorious Downing Street "Plebgate" incident, has accepted £80,000 damages in settlement of his libel action against former government chief whip Andrew Mitchell, a High Court judge was told today.

     
  88.  
    @DPJHodges Dan Hodges, commentator for the Telegraph and Total Politics

    tweets: Joking aside, if you read @Nigel_Farage Telegraph article, most significant thing is change of tone. Migrant bashing gone. And that's good.

     
  89.  
    @JGForsyth James Forsyth, from the Spectator

    tweets: Most encouraging thing for the Tories about latest YouGov is that their vote share is up to 36%, might not be stuck in the low 30s anymore

     
  90.  
    10:12: HSBC tax scandal

    Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls has responded to Chancellor George Osborne's interview on the Today programme earlier. He accuses the chancellor of refusing to answer the same question six times. We may go back and listen to see if this is true.

    Mr Balls says: "George Osborne was asked six times whether he discussed allegations of tax evasion at HSBC with Lord Green, the bank's former chairman, and six times he refused to answer.

    "What has George Osborne got to hide? People will draw their own conclusions from his total failure to answer.

    "The chancellor also struggled to explain why, since the government received these files in May 2010, only one person has been prosecuted out of 1,100 names.

    "David Cameron and George Osborne must now come clean about their discussions with Lord Green - both while he was a Tory minister and before they appointed him."

     
  91.  
    10:08: Age discrepancy BBC News Channel

    "The slowness of this recovery seems to me to be quite unprecedented," says Jonathan Portes, from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. He's being asked about the IFS's report out today. Mr Portes also points out something we spotted too, that George Osborne avoided answering when it was put to him on the BBC News Channel earlier that people over 60 are getting richer while younger people aren't.

     
  92.  
    09:52: Immigration cap

    Simon Walker, director general of the IoD, told the Today programme a week ago that existing limits on skilled migrants were "draconian". He said the fact the government couldn't block EU migrants meant all the burden fell on those people coming from outside the EU, "and that's really damaging". "They should be able to come here freely if they are qualified and able and many of them have been students here and often have to leave rather than work in the country they have come to call home," he added.

     
  93.  
    @asabenn Asa Bennett, @HuffPostUK business reporter

    tweets: Ukip's migration cap joins the flat tax and their 2010 manifesto in the "dumped by @Nigel_Farage" list

     
  94.  
    09:42: Coming up later Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Transport minister Claire Perry and shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn join Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn throughout the programme. They'll look ahead to the election with Tim Farron from the Liberal Democrats, and UKIP MP Mark Reckless will be on to discuss his party's immigration plans. Journalist and editor of Briebart UK James Delingpole will say why he thinks obese people are putting too much of a strain on the NHS, and there will be live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions. Desktop users can watch the programme live, or later, via the Live Coverage tab above.

     
  95.  
    09:40: Existing immigration cap

    It's also probably worth pointing out that last week, the Institute of Directors (IoD) said the current cap on skilled migrants entering the UK from outside the European Union - yes there already is one - of 20,700 annually was "damaging and restrictive" to the UK economy. It called on the government to raise the limit.

    In theory, as they argue, UKIP would be able to bring net migration down very swiftly if the UK were to leave the EU as they desire. Last week, official figures showed 57% of those coming to the UK were from Europe.

     
  96.  
    @paulwaugh Paul Waugh, editor of PoliticsHome.com

    tweets: Farage: "Our intention is to bring net migration to between 20k + 50k". From cap to target to ambition. And now an 'intention'

     
  97.  
    09:32: Salary target

    On the subject of migrants' salaries, you might be interested to know that Nigel Farage pays his wife, who was born in Germany, £27,000 a year to be his secretary. Here's the Daily Mail's story from last year about that.

     
  98.  
    09:28: 'Unskilled mass migration' BBC News Channel

    Pressed further by the BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith over his immigration policy, Nigel Farage says: "We need a degree of flexibility over what we need, and what we don't need is the continued mass migration into the UK of unskilled workers. Our intention is to bring net migration to between 20,000 and 50,000." He says the media are "obsessed by targets, let's talk about policy".

     
  99.  
    09:27: Policy muddle? BBC News Channel

    Mr Farage is asked if he is just making policy up as he goes along? He says not. He repeats his claim that 27,000 people would have come into the UK under the points system UKIP is proposing. "Some years it will be more, but at the moment net migration is running at 10 times what it was for most of last 50 years of the 20th century," he says.

     
  100.  
    09:25: Minimum salary BBC News Channel

    Asked if people coming to the UK would need to meet a minimum income target of £27,000 - something they had been expected to announce - Mr Farage says: "There will be no statement that it will be £27,000. It is likely to be £27,000. What we want is people who come to the UK with a skill, who don't have a criminal record or life threatening illness," he adds.

     

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