How can our ministers use EU law to block a ban in Italy
But the UK claims this is illegal under European law. Its intervention has stopped the measure in its tracks and prevented other European governments from adopting similar schemes.
Britain’s decision has apparently put the commercial interests of plastic bag manufacturers ahead of the need to tackle litter, blight and harm to wildlife.
It contradicts pledges made by Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg dating back to February 2008, when they offered their support to the Daily Mail’s ‘Banish the Bags’ campaign.
Italian ministers and environmental campaigners are furious michael kors outlet online about the role played by the Government.
Italy’s environment minister, Andrea Orlando, said: ‘The bags are a serious problem, above all at sea, and it is astounding that Britain, which is serious about the environment and has a seafaring t michael kors outlet online radition going back centuries, does not want to defend the seas fr michael kors outlet online om plastic pollution which suffocates and kills many marine animals.’
The Daily Mail campaigned against the use of plastic bags for five years and it was backed by Cameron and Clegg
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who at
one time was an adviser on green issues to the Prime Minister, condemned
the Government’s failure to tackle ‘plastic poison’ bags.
He said: ‘It is bad enough that the Government’s rhetoric on this issue is miles away from any meaningful action, but using EU bureaucracy to stop other nations doing the right thing is just shameful. The sheer deviousness of this latest move will be surprising even to cynics amongst us.’
Dr Sue Kinsey, of the Marine Conservation Society, said: ‘It seems extraordinary that a government that has badged itself as the greenest ever should seek to stop a ban on carrier bags.
‘It seems hypocritical to agree on the one hand that something needs to be done to reduce the number of carrier bags given out in the UK and on the other to block a ban on bags in Italy.’
The department for environment, food and rural affairs, run by Tory secretary of state Owen Paterson, and the business department, run by Lib Dem Vince Cable, could not agree on who was responsible for blocking the ban.
Both claimed they were simply trying to uphold European packaging laws and protect the interests of UK manufacturers.
A Government spokesman said: ‘While we are determined to tackle the blight
caused by discarded carrier bags, the proposed Italian scheme is illegal
under EU packaging laws.’
But many countries have introduced charges for bags in an attempt to cut down on their use.
The Welsh government introduced a 5p charge on plastic bags in October 2011, reducing the number handed out at tills by 90 per cent and raising tens of thousands of pounds for good causes.
Northern Ireland brought in its own 5p charge earlier this year, while the Scottish Parliament is expected to follow suit michael kors outlet online .
Dr Kinsey said: ‘Although this block came from “Britain” or the “UK” I am sure that Wales and Northern Ireland which already have bag levies and Scotland which is considering one would not agree with this position.
‘Yet again England is left isolated on this issue as the only part of the UK not to be doing anything to reduce the number of bags.