The response of the Growing Media Taskforce to the government consultation on use of peat in horticulture shows significant progress by the industry while at the same time, highlighting there is much to do.
The Growing Media Taskforce, which includes the Garden Centre Association (GCA), Growing Media Association (GMA), National Farmers Union (NFU), and Responsible Sourcing Scheme RSS) and chaired by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), has submitted its response to the government’s consultation on the use of peat in horticulture, putting forward evidence that argues against legislation and calls for government to commit to taking action that will enable access to alternatives.
With the latest figures showing peat-use continuing to decrease the taskforce has said that primary legislation is not necessary and instead government should commit to working with industry to unlock policy barriers to speed up access to materials such as wood, coir and green waste.
While industry acknowledges the need to work towards peat free, it is clearly still concerned over what that would mean, especially if a legislative process was to take place.
Despite attempts over what is now a very long period of time-nearly 20 years-growers have never found alternatives that deliver what peat does when added to growing media.
But perhaps James Barnes, Chairman of the HTA and the Growing Media Taskforce, makes the most interesting point. He says it’s not just the quality of peat alternatives but it’s the quantity that cannot be currently accessed and that could produce ‘huge damage to UK growers and retailers and a knock-on effect for the millions of people who enjoy gardening.’
He also points out that the benefits of peat cannot easily be replicated for edible crops growers too. Mr Barnes calls for the government to ‘work with us until such time a commercial material delivers the biological benefits of peat, without unintentionally impacting our domestic food security.’
The worry with that is that as mentioned before the start for the search for credible alternatives started nearly 20 years ago and we still aren’t at point where industry is 100% happy.
Unless there is further collaboration between industry and government and no doubt greater levels of investment in research and development for peat alternatives then there seems there will be a stalemate for some time to come?
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