22 February 2023
The UK’s Horticultural Trades Association reiterates that any government considering legislation to ban peat use should ensure they are ready to support the horticultural sector to develop and access responsibly-sourced alternatives which do not jeopardise the sustainability or price of the growing media, nor affect the quality of the crop produced.
Jennifer Pheasey, the HTA’s Director of Public Affairs, commented: “The horticulture sector has been working hard to develop alternative professional solutions to using peat in growing media and is committed to becoming 100% peat free. The HTA engaged with the OIM in its research for its report and is reviewing the detail of its assessment on the likely impact on the internal market. Our members have already made great strides in transitioning away from the use of peat and the proportion of peat used in growing media is at an historic low for the industry (30% in bagged compost at retail and 51.7% in professional use).
“The OIM report’s reference to a 2028 ban for the professional use of peat is based on Defra’s specified policy objective in its December 2021 consultation, and we await an announcement or decision on the final policy, which will be used for drafting the necessary legislation. Defra has confirmed to the HTA that it is yet to determine the final policy and that the OIM’s use of 2028 was for the purposes of the report, and is not official policy. Government’s original ambition was for England to be peat free by 2030.
“We welcome the OIM’s conclusions around the importance of, and challenges associated with, ensuring access to sufficient alternatives to peat, and its acknowledgement that professional growers need to take an incremental approach to transitioning.
“We therefore reiterate that any government considering legislation to ban peat use should ensure they are ready to support the horticultural sector to develop and access responsibly-sourced alternatives which do not jeopardise the sustainability or price of the growing media, nor affect the quality of the crop produced. Facilitating research and development and knowledge exchange on best practice for growing peat-free is an absolutely essential part of this process. We need the Government’s support to ensure the transition away from peat enables the horticulture sector to play its vital role in contributing to environmental ambitions, while remaining competitive and sustainable as a business sector.”