A new tax on shopping bags in Northern Ireland is being rushed through to raise revenue, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned.

The BRC argues that the fast-tracked levy, which was approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly on Monday, is ill-thought out and unnecessary.

The trade body claims efforts to reduce plastic bag use in Northern Ireland were succeeding without the additional tax.

BRC head of environment Bob Gordon said: “This levy on bags has been rushed through without proper thought. It’s actually about raising revenue, not helping the planet.

“The levy is contradictory. The Assembly cannot both reduce the use of bags and raise revenue from the taxation of bags – if one aim succeeds, the other must fail. The risk is that a charge may be introduced that doesn’t raise any revenue for the Green Deal but increases the environmental impact of getting our shopping home.

Gordon urged the Northern Ireland Executive to draw on the detailed consultative approach of the Welsh Assembly Government when it introduced a similar levy, which will come into force this spring.