UK prime minister Theresa May unveils Environmental Plan in speech in west London

UK prime minister Theresa May said she wanted to "make ours the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it".

She unveiled her Environmental Plan in a speech in west London and referred to plastic as "one of the great environmental scourges of our time".

She said that single-use plastic wasted every year in the UK would fill the Royal Albert Hall 1,000 times.

Supermarkets would also be required to have plastic-free aisles where items such as fruit and vegetables are loose rather than wrapped up in film.

She added that charges and taxes on single-use items, for instance, takeaway containers would also be considered.

Further the 5p plastic bag charge will also be brought in for smaller shops, that were earlier exempt.

However, according to critics have termed it a "missed opportunity" and say it should be underpinned by new laws in order to hold the government and businesses to account.

Speaking at London's Wetland Centre, May insisted that environmental standards would not be lowered by Brexit.

She said, "We will incorporate all existing EU environmental regulations into domestic legalisation when we leave.

"We will set out our plans for a new, world-leading independent statutory body to hold government to account and give the environment a voice."

Members of the green community have welcomed the plan and lauded May's intent to play a lead role in protecting the environment.

Shaun Spiers, executive director, Green Alliance said, reported, ''This was a landmark speech, the first prime ministerial speech on the environment for 17 years. There was much to welcome, particularly Theresa May's determination to be a world leader in protecting the environment, the commitment to set up a strong new environmental watchdog and the promise of action on plastics pollution.''