A GROUP campaigning to make Dorset litter-free has welcomed the government’s decision to start charging for plastic bags.

In her speech on June 4, the Queen announced that a 5p charge is to be placed on all disposable carrier bags issued by supermarkets and larger stores, with it set to be implemented before October.

A similar charge was implemented in Wales in 2011 and saw the consumption of disposable bags from supermarkets decrease by 75 per cent.

It is hoped it will have a similar effect in England when it is introduced. Hundreds of thousands of plastic shopping bags go to landfill in the county each year where they can take thousands of years to decompose.

The bags also frequently appear in the top ten of most littered items across Dorset and are often found in the sea where the Marine Conservation Society says they are mistaken for food by some fish – which often leads to the fish eating them and dying.

A spokesman for the Dorset Campaign Against Litter said: “The decision to start charging is good news for our countryside, towns and the environment overall. It will reduce waste and packaging and the use of precious oil to manufacture the bags.

“They frequently crop up during litterpicks and can cause serious harm to animals and sea creatures.”

Globally, between 500million and a trillion plastic shopping bags are used each year – on average for less than 20 minutes for each one.

The money generated from the carrier bag charge will be donated to charities and Marten Gregory, from the Dorset Waste Partnership, welcomed the news as a way of reducing the number of bags which end up in landfill at a direct cost to council taxpayers.

Mr Gregory said: “Anything which reduces the amount we take to landfill has got to be a positive step.”

The Dorset Campaign Against Litter group is funded by the Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and is made up of anti-litter groups across the county with representatives from some district and parish councils.