A ban on plastic bags was placed firmly on the table by the Welsh Assembly Government yesterday. The Western Mail reports that the Welsh Government puts green issue at forefront of its new powers. The move, possibly by next March, could be the first under high-profile new law making powers. It is claimed to rank alongside the smoking ban as one of the boldest pieces of legislation introduced by the Assembly Government.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan‘‘s minority Labour Government wants Westminster to give it the power to take “radical action” and pass laws which would help clean up our towns and countryside. And Sustainability Minister Jane Davidson gave the clearest signal yet that the plastic bag, used in their millions by supermarket shoppers across the nation, could be consigned to the recycling bin forever when these new powers are transferred to Cardiff Bay.

She can also expect significant Cabinet support for the policy. Ms Davidson reminded AMs that her predecessor as Environment Minister, Carwyn Jones, suggested an outright ban during an interview with the Western Mail last November. A levy could also be considered, she said. The Minister told AMs, “A levy on plastic bags could be looked at just as Carwyn Jones‘‘s previous proposition that we might wish to ban plastic bags in Wales could be looked at.

“So the radical nature of the action is in the hands of Wales. “

Public concern about the environmental impact of plastic bags has escalated in recent years, and come to the fore this year with the increasing use of re-usable or paper bags, and boxes.

According to Friends of the Earth, eight billion plastic bags are used in the UK each year. The average person goes through 134 annually. The application for the Assembly‘‘s right to make laws in such “green” areas is expected to go before Parliament for approval before Christmas. The Assembly could gain the powers in February or March.

British retailers had agreed to cut the environmental impact of plastic bags by 25% by 2008, she said. “We may want to do a great deal more in this Assembly. “

Supermarket giant Tesco recently started “naked deliveries”. Customers can request to have goods delivered without bags. Rival Sainsbury‘‘s has twice held “Bags for Life” days when shoppers are given a free re- useable bag. It calculates that if the bags are reused weekly the initiative could stop 312 million disposable bags being used – potentially avoiding 2,700 tonnes of plastic going to landfill. Other retailers are following suit. Ikea no longer offers plastic bags, Lidl charges for them and Waitrose has experimented with abandoning plastic bags.

Recent reports suggested plastic bags posed a threat to thousands of birds on Grassholm Island, off the Pembrokeshire coast. One study found more than 90% of the 30,000 gannets‘‘ nests on the island contained plastic material.

An Assembly spokeswoman said the request for more powers would “not give powers to raise a levy on plastic bags”. But it would allow the Assembly to consider a ban on plastic bags. “There is currently a voluntary agreement in place for a 25% reduction in the environmental impact of plastic bags and if that were not effective further measures could be considered. “

The application for new law-making powers is the beginning of a “green” switch – the Assembly Government also wants to crack down on litter, graffiti and fly-tipping, encourage recycling, and tackle noise pollution and air quality. However, Ms Davidson was lambasted by the Liberal Democrats for “ducking the climate change challenge”. Mick Bates, the party‘‘s environment spokesman, wanted the Assembly to seek much bolder powers. He said, “[There] is no mention of getting the powers over buildi

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #26-2007-June 29, 2006
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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