Unlimited fines and Welsh Government Proposals for enforcement of the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill
The Welsh Government is intent on banning or restricting the use of several commonly littered single-use plastic products. These bans were being developed in response to growing concerns over the damaging impact of plastic pollution on our wildlife and environment. Further to the original consultation the Welsh Government introduced its Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill (“the Bill”) in the Senedd Cymru on 20 September 2022. On 6 December 2022 the Senedd voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill and the Bill is now waiting to receive Royal Assent before it can become an Act to happen in June 2023.
Once the bans are in place, it will be an offence for a person to supply or offer to supply (including for free) to consumers in Wales the single-use plastic products listed in column 1 of the Table in the Schedule to the Bill. An offence, under Section 5 of the Bill, can only be committed by the following:
- a body corporate (including a body exercising any function of a public nature);
- a partnership; •
- an unincorporated association other than a partnership;
- or a person acting as a sole trader.
In the Bill a ‘consumer’ means an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual's trade, business or profession. At present, the Bill only contains criminal sanctions (Section 6) and anyone suspected of committing an offence can be tried in a Magistrates’ Court. If a person is found guilty of the offence, the Court may impose an unlimited fine. Note the use of the words 'unlimited fine'?
This secondary 'consultation' is aimed at establishing an alternative enforcement regime to support the bans, Welsh Ministers have agreed to use the powers available in Section 17 of the Bill and introduce regulations that provide for civil sanctions (i.e. non-criminal) to be made in respect of criminal offences created under section 5 of the Bill. These regulations will come into effect before the bans are implemented and guidance will be provided to support their use. This a consultation aimed at local authorities as the regulators, we see no real reason to respond, however you may wish to in your own right. Here you go...Proposals for enforcement of the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill | GOV.WALES
Before you give that free plastic bag away, remember a couple of word from this Welsh Government 'consultation'... unlimited fine!!!