A Government minister has praised a campaign to make Chester the first straw-free city in the UK.

Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has welcomed the initiative, which is being run by Dr Christian Dunn, a lecturer from Hoole.

An estimated 300,000 plastic drinking straws are used in the city each day. They are then dumped into landfill, taking hundreds of years to break down.

Dr Dunn’s camopaign, which was set up last autumn, has been backed by local groups, including Chester Conservatives and the Chester and District Friends of the Earth.

Praising it, Mr Gove said: “It’s great to see Chester leading the way to become the first straw free city in the UK. I would like to thank Dr Christian Dunn, the Conservative group and others involved for their hard work in helping to highlight the long-term harm that single-use drinking straws can do to the environment.

 “Our environment faces many challenges but we are determined to leave our planet in a better state than we found if for the next generation. 

“This is why the Prime Minister has launched the Government’s 25 Year Environmental Plan, which includes our pledge to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042. This builds on our extensive recent work that has shown that environmentalism is central to conservatism.”

Upton councillor Jill Houlbrook said: “I’d like to thank Mr Gove for backing the campaign, as so many people don’t realise the harm that straws can do to the environment.

“We’re appealing to businesses to get behind us and only give out a straw to customers if they ask for one and would ask customers to only ask for a straw if they really need one.”

Dr Dunn, who lectures at Bangor University, added: “It’s fantastic that a Government minister is supporting our campaign.

"We now need everyone in the city to come together and make a real success of #StrawFreeChester. Just say no to the straw!"

The campaign has attracted criticism from some quarters. Industry publication British Plastics and Rubber drew attention to the fact the straw free petition must be accessed from the City of Chester Conservatives website. They claimed the campaign is nothing more than a means of harvesting contact and mailing details of local people for use by the Tories.

However, Dr Dunn said: “This is my campaign, supported by Chester Conservatives, and if any individual, any group, any political party want to work with us on #StrawFreeChester then I’d welcome them with open arms.”