Modbury's pioneering ban leads to 5p plastic bag tax
When the pretty Devon village of Modbury announced it was to banish plastic carrier bags, the idea was regarded as radical and prompted a fair amount of grumbling from visitors.
But five and a half years on, the revolutionary plan has germinated and is now being taken up nationally with supermarkets and large stores forced to charge 5 pence a bag from 2015.
Parish councillor Doreen Flood admitted that it was flattering for their community to have been a pioneer.
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"We are very pleased at the way it has worked out," she said.
"It started in Modbury a few years ago and lots of other places nearby have followed suit."
She said that even though some people, mainly visitors, did complain at first it did give the town a certain notoriety in the region. "I was in a supermarket in Plymouth and was asked if I wanted any plastic bags, but all I had to do was say I had brought my own because I was from Modbury and the lady at the till knew."
Modbury decided to become the first town in Europe to ban plastic bags following a campaign by journalist Rebecca Hosking, who convinced traders and consumers after making a documentary about the impact of waste on the marine environment.
The policy of charging for plastic bags is due to be announced by Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, at the Liberal Democrat conference this week.
The 5p charge is being introduced after the number of plastic bags used rose to seven billion a year – following a warning by ministers that if supermarkets failed to reduce the number used they would be forced to step in and take action.
It will come into force after the next election in 2015 and money from the levy will be given to charities who have to deal with the impact discarded bags have on the environment and wildlife.
The new charge for England will apply to supermarkets and large stores.
Conservation groups hailed the announcement as a victory.
Cornwall-based Surfers against Sewage, one of the Break the Bag Habit coalition, said it was delighted with the news.
Campaign director Andy Cummins, who is spokesman for Break the Bag Habit, said a policy that reduces the number of carrier bags that litter the nation's streets, countryside and beaches must be celebrated.
"Finally the government will help improve the environments we all love so much by implementing a policy that the Break The Bag Habit has shown to be popular with the public and effective in reducing litter."