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5p charge for plastic carrier bags

Shoppers in England are to be charged 5p a time for plastic carrier bags in supermarkets and other large stores.

The move, intended to discourage use of the environmentally damaging bags, will be announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow, the Daily Mail said.

It will bring England into line with the rest of the UK - with charges already in place in Wales and Northern Ireland, with Scotland set to follow suit in 2014.

Lib Dem sources said that the charge would come into effect in England in 2015 - although it is not yet clear whether it will be before the general election, set for May that year, or after.

Mr Clegg was said to have had to fought hard within the coalition for the scheme - which is Lib Dem party policy - at a time when ministers are under intense pressure over rising cost of living.

But with a 76% fall in plastic bag use in Wales since the levy was introduced there in 2011, the Lib Dem leader was siad to believe that it was the right thing to do.

"Nick Clegg had to fight pretty hard in government to deliver this when everything is about the cost of living," a Lib Dem source said.

"We believe that a small charge outweighs the environmental damage caused by plastic bags."

The charge will only apply to supermarkets and other large stores, with small corner shops excluded.

The proceeds will go to charities involved in clearing up the environmental damage caused by the bags rather than the Government or the retaillers.

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