Angus MacDonald MSP Welcomes Parliament Committee Approval for Proposed Carrier Bag Charge


Angus meets the Bag Monster at Holyrood

The independent charity, Keep Scotland Beautiful, has revealed new polling which shows public support for the introduction of a 5p mandatory charge for retail bags by almost 2 to 1. The release of the poll coincides with the launch of its campaign on the issue, with the “Bag Monster” visiting the Scottish Parliament to meet with Angus MacDonald MSP.

It is proposed that the proceeds of the single use carrier bag charge, known as the bag levy, will be required to be given to charitable, good causes, similar to arrangements now in place in Wales. The Welsh regulations have resulted in an 80% decline in the number of single use bags being used in shops, a similar decline to reductions achieved in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In a poll of 1,037 Scottish adults, conducted by YouGov for Keep Scotland Beautiful, those supporting the proposals outnumbered those opposing by 54% to 28%.
Backing the campaign, Angus MacDonald MSP for Falkirk East said:

“I’m delighted to support these proposed new regulations. My constituency postbag tells me that litter levels are a real concern for local people, and the bag levy will be a big step towards a reduced litter problem.

“It will also reduce our use of unsustainable materials and – in the process – make a difference to the many charities that will benefit from the proceeds.”

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald serves on the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACCE) which approved the affirmative instrument: The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Scotland) Regulations 2014 [draft], by 8 votes 1 this week, with only the Tory member dissenting.

While welcoming the passage of the carrier bag regulation at committee Angus MacDonald said he was “surprised” that the Tory member of the committee, Alex Fergusson MSP, disagreed with moves in England to go along the same route as the Scottish Government and for the European Union to follow best practice already established in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Angus said,

“This move to reduce single use carrier bags in Scotland has widespread support. It is a high profile way to influence better environmental behaviour across our communities. It sets national standards and encourages local supermarkets to support good causes with the minimum 5p charge being levied as of October this year.

“Since the plastic carrier bag bill was rejected in 2005 we have passed our world leading Scottish Climate Change Act in 2009. It is puzzling that the Tory Party in Scotland seems to be at odds with the majority opinion here and the UK coalition Tory LibDem government’s signal of its intention to go down the same route.

“This is not about the bag of chips or the hot pie in an open bag, it is about all materials used in carry outs and purchases. An 80% reduction in carrier bag uses could raise an estimated £5m per year for good causes. The evidence from Wales is a strong steer in funding towards environmental projects decided by local stores staff and customers.

"I welcome the proposal by the Scottish Government for a publicity campaign in October around the time this order becomes active and that the public can keep track of progress via a website operated by Zero Waste Scotland. This is an excellent example setting national standards with both environmental behaviour change in mind and local decisions about the delivery of cash from reduced single carrier bag use."

Angus MacDonald concluded:

“The Tory opposition to this popular measure is hard to fathom. They are standing out against the popular wishes of Scots to see a reduction in bag use which fits well with the aims of the world-leading Scottish Climate Change Act.”

Launching the KSB campaign, Mark Bevan, Head of Campaigns at Keep Scotland Beautiful said:

“The introduction of the charge has the potential to make a real difference to levels of litter on the streets of Scotland, a problem identified by the hundreds of thousands volunteers who are helping our Clean Up Scotland Campaign.

“Reinvesting the proceeds into local communities would provide opportunities for community based organisations and retailers to work together to improve the local areas in which we live, work and enjoy leisure time.

“Scotland has a litter problem and these regulations could help significantly.”

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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