Independent retailers have expressed delight at plans to extend the 5p plastic bag levy to smaller shops.

Since the charge was first imposed in England in October 2015 independents have campaigned against the exemption, saying it would confuse customers and lessen the impact on the environment that an all inclusive levy would have had.

Linda Sood, National President of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, said this shows that government has listened to independent retailers’ concerns.

Mrs Sood commented: “Our members have always been baffled by the fact that they were excluded from the requirements in England, although their retail colleagues in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been able to charge. Because of their desire to be environmentally friendly and to help support local charities, many of them have chosen to implement the charge, with the proceeds donated to local good causes.”