Restrictions on harvesting horticultural peat have been branded a “fiasco” by independent TD, Sean Canney, as he highlighted the negative environmental impact of increased peat imports to the country.
The reality of restricting the harvesting of horticultural peat in Ireland before a viable alternative was in place has raised issues around the difficult situation this policy raises for the horticulture industry and the lack of planning in implementing governments climate action policies,” he said.
These restrictions have resulted in the recent importation a shipment of 3,600t horticultural peatThe TD stated that the TD was able to meet the demands of Irish horticultural farmers in the absence any viable alternative.
It is very unfortunate that Ireland now depends on imported horticultural Peat. The 3,600 tonnes of peat imported last week was the first to arrive in a port south-bound. Six of these shipments were brought to Ireland in the past seven weeks. – and this is low-demand season,” he said.
He highlighted the environmental impact of such imports by explaining that 200 trucks are needed to transport peat to the port. Each ship travels 3,000km. Once in Ireland, 200 trucks are required for unloading each shipment.
“The negative environmental consequences of importing horticultural peat are obvious to all but a few. Only 0.12% of the total Irish peatlands were used to make horticultural peat.
“It is typical of a decision being made to end production of a product badly need in our country without an alternative plan to supply the market being put in place,” he said.
It is now a fact that there will not be any viable alternatives for the Irish horticultural industry for the next ten years. For many years, such shipments will be a fortnightly or even weekly reality.
“The additional cost of importing horticultural peat will also have a direct impact on the price horticultural growers will have to pay for this vital ingredient and the cost the consumer will have to pay for Irish fruit and vegetables grown in imported horticultural peat.
He said that it was essential to establish a fair and practical licensing system that would allow for the gradual elimination of horticultural peat harvesting during a transition period from 2030.
This would allow for alternative solutions to be developed, and would ensure that there is a steady supply of growing media throughout that time.
Calls for publication
There are still calls for Malcolm Noonan, Minister of State at Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, to publish a report on this matter.
The report was prepared by a working group that Minister Noonan established to address the important issues surrounding horticultural and domestic peat.
It was submitted at the end October to the minister, but has not yet been made public.