Retailers in Northern Ireland have blasted a new ushering in a compulsory levy on carrier bags.

The Northern Irish Assembly last night passed fast-track legislation for a tax of up to 15p per bag.

Critics said the levy was “ill-conceived” and could lead to consumers treating thicker plastic ‘bags for lie’ as single-use bags.

“This levy on bags has been rushed through without proper thought,” said British Retail Consortium environment chief Bob Gordon. “It’s actually about raising revenue, not helping the planet.

“The levy is contradictory. The Assembly cannot both reduce the use of bags and raise revenue from the taxation of bags – if one aim succeeds, the other must fail. The risk is that a charge may be introduced that doesn’t raise any revenue but increases the environmental impact of getting our shopping home.”

“If the Northern Ireland Executive is determined to go ahead with this ill-conceived tax then it should draw on the detailed consultative process in Wales and adopt the same approach. Businesses should only have to cope with one bag taxation system.”

Legislation for a bag tax in Wales was passed last December, with the levy taking effect from 1 October this year.

Read more
Get over your obsession with carrier bags, BRC tells greens (23 February 2011)
Bag tax given the go-ahead in Wales (Convenience Store; 10 December 2010)