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Sinn Féin to call for levy on plastic bags in North

3 November, 2008

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay, will tomorrow (Tuesday the 4th of Novemebr 2008) call on the Assembly to pass a motion that will place a levy on plastic bags and press the Minister for the Environment, Sammy Wilson, to bring forward a strategy that will help phase out their usage within a set timeframe.

Speaking ahead of the motion Mr McKay said:

"Across Europe numerous governments are taking radical measures to reduce the use of plastic bags and the impact they have on the environment. However in the north we are way behind with no such plans which inevitably sees our local environment deteriorate further.

"We see plastic bags littering our streets, clinging to fences and hedgerows in our countryside and for those bags that make it to the landfill the will lie their for years before they even begin to degrade.

"A clear example of a beneficial way of tackling this problem is in Marks and Spencer's where they already charge for food carrier bags in the north and this has resulted in customers' use of plastic bags dropping by over 70%, over 280 million bags, and raised over £80,000 for the Groundwork organisation for use in local environmental projects.

"Sinn Féin believes that initiatives like these are the way forward and that the Minister should now take steps to introduce a plastic bag levy across the north." ENDS

The motion is as follows:

That this Assembly supports, in principle, a levy on plastic carrier bags and notes the French Government's decision to ban non- biodegradable plastic bags by 2010; and calls on the Minister of the Environment to bring forward legislation, as a matter of priority, to introduce a levy on plastic carrier bags and to develop a plan to phase out their use.

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