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Lib Dems announce 5p charge for plastic bags in England

Authored by Matthew Vizard
Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013 - 10:24

The government plans to introduce a five pence charge for plastic carrier bags in England. The announcement is to be made by Nick Clegg at the Liberal Democrats' annual conference in Glasgow this weekend.

Aimed at discouraging the use and disposal of plastic bags which may have an impact on wildlife and the wider environment, the plans follow figures from Wales which has seen a 75% reduction in their use since a charge was introduced there in 2011.

Both Wales and Northern Ireland have similar schemes in place with Scotland set to follow next year.

The charge will apply to supermarkets and larger stores and will come into force in England after the 2015 general election.

The plans are believed to have been opposed by some Conservative ministers, while campaign groups have expressed differing views. Keep Britain Tidy agreed that giving away free plastic bags was a significant cost to the environment, but The Taxpayers' Alliance believes the move will have little impact on environmental waste and argues that hitting people with another "tax" is unnecessary while other more positive incentive schemes existed.

Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey confirmed that the levy will raise "pretty small amounts", but that the money would go to charities and not into government coffers.

Mr Davey told the BBC: "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."

The Liberal Democrat annual conference begins today (Saturday 14 September) and runs until Wednesday.