Ministers in the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine have today announced a series of actions to support Irish horticultural growers who are dependent on peat.
This follows the publication of the Final Report of the Working Group on the Use of Peat Moss in the Horticultural Industry. The Working Group on the Use of Peat Moss in the Horticultural Industry was established following a series of High Court decisions that determined that large-scale peat harvesting requires planning permission and licensing by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Working Group was tasked in particular with examining the potential of alternatives to peat for the horticultural industry. While the sector is committed to transitioning away from peat, this is not possible in the short term.
Against this background, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has worked with the Departments of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), and Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Housing), to develop proposals that 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 that is compliant with the relevant regulations on sub-30 hectare bogs; and
• research to deliver alternatives to peat for the horticulture sector.
The ultimate ambition of this exercise is to support the €469 million horticulture industry, the people employed, and the many families that depend on this important sector.
Referring to the situation faced by Irish growers, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. said:
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 endeavoring 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. We thank our Ministerial colleagues Eamon Ryan and Darragh O’Brien for their help in delivering a series of actions to support this crucial sector. We also, of course, wish to thank Minister of State Malcolm Noonan for the work he did with the working group.”
For more information:
Government of Ireland