Assembly Committee Motion Focuses on Environmental Impact of Bag Charge
Date: 29 May 2012
Reference: ENV 10/11/12
How will a charge on single use carrier bags affect the environment in Northern Ireland? That was the subject of a debate in the Assembly Chamber today, led by the Environment Committee. Concerned about the impact of how the charge is introduced, the Committee has called on the Minister of the Environment, Alex Attwood MLA, to ensure the focus is solely on the reduction of bag consumption.
Environment Committee Chairperson, Anna Lo MLA said: “The Committee was concerned about the level of the charge and the types of bags it would cover, and wants confirmation that the focus is on the environmental impact. The main aim of introducing a charge should be to reduce bag consumption, and not the generation of revenue. Reducing the number of single use carrier bags will have a positive impact on the environment, as well as on society, from lowering production and transportation emissions and reducing damage to marine and wildlife. But at the same time, we need to be sure that by extending the charge to reusable bags or bags made from natural materials we don’t give out conflicting messages.”
The Department for the Environment is currently carrying out a consultation exercise on how best to implement a charge. The Committee has gathered views from a number of stakeholders which it will use as the basis of a response to the Department’s consultation.
Anna Lo continued, “It was important for the Committee to respond to the Department’s consultation on how to implement the proposed charge on single use carrier bags. We spoke to many stakeholders and asked them to submit their views via an online blog on the issue. This was a positive and helpful exercise and enabled the Committee to pass on the views of interested parties directly to the Department. The majority of the responses were in support of the charge and many made recommendations on the cost of the charge, as well as the type of bags which should be excluded from the charge.”