DOWN Councillor Cadogan Enright expressed delight at the annoucement that Stormont was finally moving ahead with copying the ‘Green’ plastic bag tax from the Republic of Ireland as part of the Northern Ireland budget process.
Councillor Enright said: “Clearly the pressure we are putting on the other parties on this issue is working and it will make it more difficult for the big vested interests in Britain to stop this policy being introduced. We have already succeded in introducing this policy in the Republic.
“Each year for the last five years in advance of the Budget we have collected plastic bags from the hedges around Lecale and Downpatrick at the side of the road and posted them off to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in London as a protest at them not copying the Republic’s highly successful scheme.”
“We have accused both the Labour and the ConDem coalition of bowing to vested interests by not proceeding with the bag tax.
“It is on the public record with the Electoral Commission that the English Labour Party is partly funded by people associated with big supermarkets, with Lord Sainsbury an active senior party member under Tony Blair having given £11 million to the party by 2003 and £16 million by 2007. The Torys have a similar set-up. Clearly this gives this industry undue influence.
“The huge numbers of plastic bags going into landfill and blowing about the countryside are a scandal, with the trees and hedges of some of our best beauty spots stuffed with unsightly plastic bags.
“We have seen the success of this policy in the Republic in recent years where a tiny tax of 15 cents was sufficient to make people stop and think if they should be using recyclable bags instead.
“Local shops will benefit from this change when it eventually happens, and many shopkeepers have told me that the custom and practice of handing out plastic bags with every purchase spread from the supermarkets, and I can recall when people used their own shopping bags – as they do noe in France – before this custom became embedded.
“Clearly the Republic has shown that people will go back to old pre-disposable ways if given a chance – so must we”.