Louth Fianna Fáil Senator Erin McGreehan has welcomed a series of actions to support Irish horticultural growers who are dependent on peat that was announced by Ministers in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Senator McGreehan commented: “The Irish horticultural industry makes a significant contribution to the economy with an estimated 17,600 employed in the sector and a farm gate value of almost €469 million in 2020.
"The industry has faced several legal and regulatory challenges in the extraction of peat in recent years. This has generated supply challenges (volume and price) for the horticulture sector, which continues to rely on peat as a raw growing material.”
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 which 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 which 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.
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