The government has launched a consultation with an aim to ban the sale of peat to amateur gardeners by 2024 – 14 years after it first announced its intention to ban the digging of peat and destruction of bogland for the business of horticulture. The consultation closes on 18 March 2022. Kate Jennings writes:
Peatlands are vital both for nature and for their ability to mitigate climate change by locking up and storing carbon. They are the UK’s largest stores of carbon and they also provide vital ecosystem services, such as supplying over a quarter of the UK’s drinking water and decreasing flood risk. When peat is extracted, the carbon stored inside the bog is released as carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change. Peat extraction also degrades the state of the peat mass which threatens biodiversity and the efficacy of ecosystem services across a larger area.
Shockingly however, peat is still being extracted in the UK, primarily for horticultural purposes, with bagged retail growing media accounting for 70% of the peat sold in the UK. And two thirds of the peat sold in the UK is imported from the rest of Europe, meaning that peat use in the UK is directly contributing to carbon emissions and habitat loss outside of the UK, and exporting the associated carbon footprint.
In England, the UK government set voluntary targets in 2011, aiming for a peat-free amateur sector by 2020 and professional sector by 2030 in England. However, while there have been considerable advances in the development of peat-free alternatives and active promotion of their use by high profile figures like Monty Don, the voluntary targets have failed and retailers (such as Settle’s own Lay of the Land) who stock primarily peat-free bagged compost are very much in the minority.
The current Defra consultation proposes a ban to end the retail sale of peat and peat containing products in England and Wales by the end of this Parliament and by 2028 in the professional horticulture sector.
The consultation document is here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/soils-and-peatlands/endingtheretailsaleofpeatinhorticulture/supporting_documents/Consultation%20Ending%20the%20retail%20sale%20of%20peat%20in%20horticulture%20in%20England%20and%20Wales.pdf. Responses can be submitted online here: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/, sent by email to email@example.com or sent by post to ‘Peat in Horticulture Consultation’, Soils & Peatlands Team, Area SE, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF.
To help keep up the pressure for a much needed and long overdue ban on the sale of peat, the Wildlife Trusts are also running a campaign which you can support by adding your name here: https://e-activist.com/page/79378/petition/1
(Send your comments to: acesettleandarea at gmail.com (replace at with @))