Deputy Inna Gardiner last year successfully brought a proposition to the States Assembly calling for the use of single-use bags in shops to be banned with the final legislative changes due to be brought back before Members by the end of February.
However, she has now criticised the lack of action and claimed that delays to propositions brought by backbench politicians had become a ‘feature of our government’.
Under Deputy Gardiner’s proposals, retailers would no longer be able to sell or give away single-use bags, but would still be able to sell reusable ‘bags for life’.
Deputy Gardiner said she was ‘disappointed’ that the legislation was not lodged by February this year ‘in accordance with the States Assembly decision’.
‘I understand that there are various reasons for delays and at the same time I feel there is also a lack of forward planning,’ she said. ‘In my proposition I wanted traders to have enough warning and time to adapt, so I worded the proposition so that the ban would come into effect six months after the new legislation is adopted by the Assembly.’
After the proposition was approved, a consultation was carried out to gather retailers’ views on the minimum price for bags for life, and how the banning of single-use plastic could be extended to other items.
‘Lack of action and delays on backbenchers’ propositions are a feature of our government in enabling them to avoid implementing decisions made by the Assembly,’ said the Deputy.
‘Covid will be with us for a while if not forever. We have to get past using it as an excuse to cherry pick which Assembly decisions to implement and which to delay indefinitely. This was pretty much a unanimous decision by the Assembly with massive amounts of support from the public, with almost no cost to the people of Jersey with big implications for the environment – we should be asking why anybody can choose to delay this further.’
However, Environment Minister John Young said that the single-use bag legislation ‘was not the only area’ that had been delayed by the pandemic.
‘The effects of Covid and disruption to the government has been enormous,’ he said. ‘The Law Draftsman’s Office team is extremely stretched – the commitments made will be done.’
He added: ‘I admire Deputy Gardiner’s tenacity. She is challenging the right issues and she has my support.’