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Bags levy a double boost in time of cutbacks

The benefits of a levy on plastic bags in the north will be two-fold.

Firstly, it will help reduce the 400 million-plus plastic bags which go to landfill in the north each year and, secondly, it will generate revenue for the Executive to use.

In the Single Use Plastic Bags Bill that I introduced to the Assembly recently, it was proposed that the levy would be set at 15p.

This was widely supported by councils, NGOs and environmental groups, who responded to that Bill's consultation process.

The key to the success of this levy in the south, where €101m was raised over the past five years, was securing public support.

Sinn Fein believes that such revenue in the north should go towards the Green New Deal Housing Fund - a project that would enable the energy retrofit of 100,000 homes over four years, resulting in average household savings of £320, the creation of 2,000 to 3,000 jobs and benefiting at least 50,000 homes in fuel poverty.

In that way, this levy will not only benefit the environment, but it will also cut household fuel costs, reduce poverty levels and create jobs - exactly the kind of things the Executive should be focusing on at this time of financial austerity.

I very much welcome the Executive's adoption of my Bill's proposals and I look forward to this levy being a great success - in the same way that it already is throughout the rest of the island.

DAITHI McKAY (SF)

MLA for North Antrim

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