Northern Ireland

Mark H Durkan plastic bag levy increase dropped

The Department of the Environment (DoE) has announced that the plastic bag tax will not increase as planned.

Minister Mark H Durkan's department had previously proposed increasing the levy from 5p to 10p from April 2014.

However, Mr Durkan said provisional figures showing a large reduction in single use bag numbers had convinced him to drop the planned increase.

The DoE said data from a number of major supermarkets showed a reduction in plastic bag use of over 80%.

Mr Durkan said the results showed the 5p levy had produced "a step change in consumer behaviour".

"As a result I believe that we do not need to increase the levy to 10p," he said.

"Since the introduction of the 5p levy, the public have adopted a very responsible attitude and I commend them for that. I therefore will keep the levy at 5p for the foreseeable future. I will of course keep the situation under review."

The minister still intends to extend the 5p levy to low cost reusable carrier bags from April 2014.

Mr Durkan said this was to prevent these bags becoming the "new throwaway bags".