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Stormont fast-track bag tax is slammed by traders

An Assembly decision to fast-track legislation on a plastic bag levy for Northern Ireland has been criticised by retailers.

The plan for a potential 15p charge for plastic bags forms part of the Budget blueprint agreed by the DUP and Sinn Fein.

But while the UUP, SDLP and a retail group objected to the decision to grant the Bill accelerated passage at Stormont, this was rejected by the MLA responsible for the legislation who said it would protect the environment and |create revenue.

Sinn Fein's Daithi McKay said similar legislation had been successful in the Republic, where he said government surveys showed it had benefited the public and the business community.

But Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent retail Trade Association expressed |concerns.

“I am very disappointed that the Assembly has decided to rush this legislation,” he said.

“There should have been proper scrutiny. Whilst we support the objective of reducing the plastic in landfill, we are concerned at how the Assembly has handled this.

“This is the Assembly's first new tax. To introduce it without |adequate scrutiny is a dangerous precedent.”

But Green Party MLA Brian Wilson said he believed the levy would have a positive impact on the economy and the environment.

He said the levy in the Republic saw consumers use 1.3 billion fewer plastic bags each year.

Representatives from the UUP said they would prefer to see the measure delayed until after the May Assembly election.

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