Boris mulls 5p charge for plastic bags

By Phil Scullion

Boris Johnson has called for a plastic bag ban across London to help combat waste and litter.

The mayor of London branded plastic bags an "unnecessary scourge" on the environment, and set out his ambition to make the city "bag free".

London shopkeepers had been asked to cut down on the number of bags they hand out themselves but bag use actually increased this year.

Mr Johnson told the Daily Mail how important it is for London to clean up its act prior to the 2012 Olympic Games.

"We are planning a renewed campaign to help do so ahead of 2012, when the eyes of the world are on us.

"Whilst London doesn’t have the powers to implement bans or charges, I am keenly following Wales's efforts to solve this problem," he added.

The Welsh government used its devolved powers to slap a 5p charge on every bag sold with the proceeds going to good causes.

There is an expectation that the scheme will help reduce the number of single use bags by 90% and raise £3 million a year for charities when it launches in September.

Estimates show that London could hope to raise around £8 million a year for charity if it adopted the same strategy.

In order to implement the scheme London would require special dispensation from Westminster, which could be granted under the provisions of the Climate Change Act 2008.