Peat sales to gardeners in England and Wales to be banned by 2024 | Climate crisis

Selling peat to gardeners in England and Wales is to be banned by 2024 under plans released by the government on Saturday. The ministers said they also aim to end the use of peat in the professional horticulture sector by 2028.

The government set a voluntary target in 2011 for compost retailers to end peat sales by 2020. But peat use only declined by 25% between 2011 and 2019 and increased by 9 % in 2020, with Covid closures boosting gardening as a hobby.

Peat is the UK’s largest store of carbon, trapping as much as tropical rainforests per hectare, but is regularly mined for horticulture. This releases carbon dioxide, adding to the climate crisis. Peatlands are also vital habitats for rare species of wildlife, and help filter water and reduce flooding.

However, the government consultation also contains measures that go beyond an outright ban, instead including an additional charge on the price of peat compost, or providing information on the environmental impact of the peat moss. peat at the point of sale. The government has said it does not intend to ban the sale of plants in pots containing peat and that its plans will not affect current peat mining licenses.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “We are committed to advancing the ban [on the sale of peat to gardeners] by the end of this Parliament – it’s an absolute commitment.

“Our peatlands are an incredibly precious natural resource,” she said. “There are now more good quality, sustainable peat-free alternatives available now than at any time, so I am confident that now is the time to make the change permanent. Sustainable alternatives to peat include compost made from wood fiber and bark, wool, coir and other plants.

Pow said the weaker metrics were included because “in a consultation it’s best to be fully informed with as much evidence and data as possible, and some people in the industry are always pushing for others. potential routes “.

Craig Bennett, Wildlife Trusts, said: “The government has been dithering on this crucial issue for decades and the consultation on the use of peat by gardeners is long overdue. But it’s a wet firecracker.

“He is referring to the harmful effects of peat mining, but this activity is still allowed in England, which is absurd. We need an immediate ban on the use of peat by individuals and the entire horticulture industry and an immediate end to peat mining. “

Professor Dave Goulson, University of Sussex, said: “We have to stop kicking the box on the road. The government recognizes that we are in a climate emergency, but is not even ready to stop the depletion of a vital carbon pool for unnecessary ornamental use in our gardens. We have to stop using peat now. Pow said the “historic” licenses for peat extraction were under review.

Alan Titchmarsh, Kate Bradbury and James Wong are among the leading gardeners who have backed a ban, and Monty Don has called the peat in the compost “environmental vandalism.”

Peat may become more difficult to purchase in the UK anyway, as most are imported from peatlands in Ireland, where state-owned Bord na Móna halted all peat mining in 2020, although its reserves are always sold. Some large peat retailers have implemented their own bans, including Dobbies and the cooperative in 2021 and B&Q by 2023.

About 70% of the peat is sold to gardeners and 30% is used by professional growers. Government believes a ban on both uses would reduce CO2 emissions of 4 million tonnes over the next two decades.

The government has also announced £ 4million to boost 10 peat restoration projects across England, including in Fens, Dorset, Somerset and Yorkshire. Almost 90% of peatlands in England are in degraded condition and emit 10 million tonnes of CO2 one year. In May, ministers announced a £ 50million plan to restore 35,000 hectares of peatlands by 2025, or around 1% of the UK total. “It’s a really positive start,” said Pow, saying these investments have leveraged other funds focused on water management and increasing biodiversity.

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