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Carrier Bag Levy: Review

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 3rd October 2016.

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Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP 3:15 pm, 3rd October 2016

T2. Mr Stalford asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to outline the term of reference for, and cost of, the review into the carrier bag levy. (AQT 267/16-21)

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for his question. As he will be aware, we have committed to delivering a statutory review of the carrier bag levy by April 2017. It will be conducted on behalf of my Department by business consultancy service, which is a division of the Department of Finance. The terms of reference of that review will be to look at three options: maintain the existing arrangements; discontinue the existing levy and remove the 5p charge; and, finally, increase the levy to 10 pence for all bags with a threshold extended to 40 pence. The Member also asked the cost of the review. It is costing £29,948, which in itself is not insignificant.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

What has the impact been from the funding that has been raised by the levy in the most important constituency in Northern Ireland, South Belfast?

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for his question. Obviously, it has had an impact across Northern Ireland. In previous years, a challenge fund was run by the former Department of the Environment, and this was really to look at enabling schools and community groups to support and deliver small-scale projects to improve the local environment and to provide environmental education. A number of groups have benefited from the fund in the past. The Mornington Community Project received £8,000 spend. The Greater Village Regeneration Trust received £7,454, and Windsor Women's Centre received £7,998. That was a total of £23,452·83. I am considering our options around launching a challenge fund for this year. I am looking at that alongside the priorities for expenditure. I found that that was a useful project, and I know that communities and schools felt that it was of value.