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Plastic bag tax proposals a ‘fiasco’, claims SDLP

Proposals in the Assembly’s draft Budget to introduce a plastic bag tax have been rubbished as a “fiasco” by the SDLP’s environment spokesperson.

John Dallat said crucial environmental work — including river restoration, marine resources and tackling fly-tipping — could all be put at risk due to the reliance on revenue generated from the bag tax.

The East Londonderry MLA said the proposals are too vague and estimations of how much money will be generated are “reckless”.

“The SDLP is in favour of a plastic bags tax but our proposals do not rely on income from the sale of these in the first year and only £800,000 in subsequent years.

“River restoration is essential for many reasons and relates directly to our ability to contribute to tourism but it also impacts on the wider economy and the health and wellbeing of our citizens.

“The repatriation of waste that originated in the Republic of Ireland is also among the |environmental tasks which are now under threat because 20% of the cost was to be borne by the Assembly.

“While a tax should be imposed on environmentally damaging plastic bags, the raising of it should not impact directly on our ability to carry out frontline areas of work.”

The public consultation on the draft Budget is due to end on February 16.

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