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PM 'must keep plastic bag promise'

The Prime Minister has been urged to keep his promise on reducing plastic bags by launching a consultation on bringing in charges for carrier bags.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has warned that 170 species of marine wildlife have been recorded mistaking litter for food, including turtles whose guts have been found full of plastic bags.

As Wales brings in its levy on single-use carrier bags handed out in shops from Saturday, and Scotland and Northern Ireland move to consult on similar proposals, the MCS is calling for a consultation on plastic bag charging in England.

Earlier this week, David Cameron threatened to introduce tough laws forcing retailers to cut the number of plastic bags they issue if they fail to do so voluntarily.

The Prime Minister praised major high-street stores for a significant dip overall in the amount of single-use bags being handed to shoppers in recent years but branded it "unacceptable" that the number went up in 2010. He warned stores that they would have to answer to him if they failed to reverse that trend soon.

But the MCS said the PM's comments were empty words and that inaction on the issue in England was "nothing short of a cop-out" for a coalition that styles itself as the greenest government ever.

Dr Robert Keirle, MCS pollution programme manager, said: "A total of 6.4 billion single-use bags were used by supermarket customers across the UK in 2010. If we're not careful, some sort of levy will be operational in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but nothing in England.

"For a coalition Government when both parties were keen to trumpet their green credentials in the run-up to the election, this inaction is nothing short of a cop-out."

The call from the MCS comes as a poll for 5 News revealed that almost two-thirds of people supported a UK-wide charge for plastic bags similar to the 5p levy introduced in Wales this weekend.

The survey of 2,444 British adults by YouGov found that 63% supported the move to bring in a charge for carrier bags handed out in shops.


From Belfast Telegraph