The Government is to introduce a 5p charge on plastic bags in a bid to prevent littering.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has thrown his weight behind the policy which will begin after the 2015 election.

The charge will only apply to large stores and the proceeds will go to charity.

Clegg unveiled the policy at the Liberal Democrat party conference this weekend and said he had environmental concerns over the impact of plastic bags, notably on waterborne animals.

The 5p bag charge is similar to those that apply to plastic and paper bags in Wales and Northern Ireland. Grocers in the latter have experienced an 80% reduction in plastic bag use.

Scottish retailers will start charging for bags in October 2014.