The Irish Government has published the final report of its Working Group on the Use of Peat Moss in the Horticultural Industry, together with a series of joint actions for different government departments in light of the report’s recommendations.
The report recognises that while the horticultural sector in Ireland is committed to transitioning away from peat, this is not possible in the short term, and acknowledges that the country’s horticultural industry is worth €469 million a year. As a result, the joint actions include:
- the commissioning of an independent expert to assess levels and suitability of current stocks of peat across all suppliers, including Bord na Móna, for the Irish horticultural sector
- the commissioning of experts on planning to provide free advice to those who wish to extract peat in a manner which is compliant with the relevant regulations on sub-30-ha bogs
- research to deliver alternatives to peat for the horticulture sector
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. commented, “Ministers Hackett, Heydon and I are very aware that there are no simple solutions here, but we are committed to exploring every opportunity to alleviate the current difficulties for growers, their businesses and their families. The horticulture sector is crucial for the agriculture industry and the overall economy. We are endeavouring to address the short-term issue of supply, the medium term one of future access to peat and also the longer-term issue of replacement with alternatives.”
The industry itself estimates that 60 per cent of Irish horticulture depends on peat. Growing Media Ireland (GMI) criticised the proposed actions, saying they “will cause environmental catastrophe and job losses.”
GMI chairperson John Neenan added, “We are outraged at the government’s response to the horticultural peat crisis as the working group’s report recommendations have been completely ignored. The so-called ‘series of actions‘ from the government will have severe environmental consequences with Ireland now fully reliant on importing large shipments all the way from the Baltic.”