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Northern Ireland risks contradictory bag tax

A new tax on shopping bags in Northern Ireland is being rushed through simply to raise revenue, the British Retail Consortium warns.


Northern Ireland risks contradictory bag tax

The Northern Ireland Assembly approved the levy by Accelerated Passage, meaning it has not been subjected to the usual levels of parliamentary scrutiny or discussion.

The BRC says efforts to reduce plastic bag use in Northern Ireland were succeeding without the additional tax. A levy is not needed to continue that trend and will only cause expense for businesses and customers.

If the charge only applies to thin plastic bags and is set too high, then the danger is consumers will treat cheaper "bags for life" as single use bags, doing more damage to the environment and not providing income for the Northern Ireland Executive to support the Green Deal.

British Retail Consortium Head of Environment, Bob Gordon, said: "This levy on bags has been rushed through without proper thought. It's actually about raising revenue, not helping the planet.

"Working together, retailers and consumers have significantly reduced the number of plastic bags being used in Northern Ireland. This levy doesn't support these efforts. Instead it penalises businesses and customers during a difficult financial period.

"The levy is contradictory. The Assembly cannot both reduce the use of bags and raise revenue from the taxation of bags – if one aim succeeds, the other must fail. The risk is that a charge may be introduced that doesn't raise any revenue for the Green Deal but increases the environmental impact of getting our shopping home.

"If the Northern Ireland Executive is determined to go ahead with this ill-conceived tax then it should draw on the detailed consultative process in Wales and adopt the same approach. Businesses should only have to cope with one bag taxation system."

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