Government ponders plan to ban sale of peat compost to gardeners by 2024

Peatland
Support us and go ad-free

The use of peat for gardening could be banned by 2024 to protect the climate and nature under plans being put out for consultation by the government.

Peat

Under new proposals, the sale of compost containing peat would be phased out in the amateur horticulture sector in England and Wales by the end of this parliament, to cut carbon emissions and conserve wildlife habitats. Peatlands is a key carbon store – the largest in the UK – and extracting peat for use in horticulture releases carbon emissions, as well as damaging key wildlife habitats, and reducing the landscape’s ability to absorb water and curb flooding.

While a ban is said to be the government’s preferred option, it’s also consulting on alternatives including a sales charge on bags of compost that contain peat and mandatory labelling detailing the environmental reasons to avoid it. Options being put out for consultation also include possible exemptions, for example for scientific uses, and a maximum amount of peat allowed in certain products.

Conservationists said the plans by the government only scratched the surface of the problem of peat in horticulture and called for an immediate ban on use by amateur gardeners and the wider industry, which uses it to grow plants in.

The horticultural industry claimed that neither a ban nor a sales tax would address fundamental problems with the availability of alternatives to peat and called for government support for the sector to make the move away from it.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free
MP portraits
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow says peatlands are a crucial, natural resource (Chris McAndrew/PA)

Launching the consultation, the government said composts with comparable quality to peat-based products were available, such as wood fibre, green compost, wool and coir, or coconut fibre. Ministers said curbing peat sales, as well as efforts to restore peatland landscapes, would help towards the UK’s targets to cut climate emissions to zero overall by 2050, known as net zero, and restore nature. With much of the peat sold to gardeners in the UK imported from abroad, curbing its use will also protect peat bogs further afield, officials argue.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said:

Our peatlands are an incredibly valuable natural resource. They play a crucial role in locking up carbon, provide habitats for wildlife and help with flood mitigation.

The amateur gardening sector has made huge strides in reducing peat use and there are more sustainable and good quality peat-free alternatives available than at any other time, so I am confident now is the right time to make the shift permanent.

The horticulture industry said peat use had fallen to 35% of ingredients in bagged compost sold by garden centres and other retailers, and it was committed to removing it from retail operations by 2025-28 and for professional nursery plant production by 2028-30.

Dragging their heels

With a voluntary target being missed to end peat’s use by amateur gardeners by 2020, set by ministers in 2011, Ailis Watt from the Wildlife Trusts said the government had dragged its heels on the issue for a decade:

We need to see an immediate ban on use of peat by individuals and the wider horticulture industry, an immediate cessation of peat extraction in the UK and an immediate ban on import of peat and peat materials.

Though this new consultation on the ban of peat composts and other products in the amateur sector is a step in the right direction, the measures proposed only scratch the surface of the problem.

We need to end the use of peat in horticulture entirely, with immediate effect, not wait until 2024 as the Government proposes, if we are to restore these damaged habitats, allow nature to return and enable them to store carbon rather than emit it.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Lemme see. Plants absorb carbon in the photosynthesis process, releasing Oxygen that we breath. In moving peat from one location to another certainly creates carbon from the transportation of the peat, but at least the peat is not burned, returning eons of carbon sequestered in the peat to the atmosphere. Using the peat to grow more plants would seem to be a good idea.

      It appears to me that Rebbeca Pow would be better off halting the turning of trees into pellets in the USA and shipping them across the Atlantic to be burned in Drax power-plants in the UK. Drax creates serious pollution in the US and massive carbon release in the UK, higher for a given electrical output per ton than using coal!

      Ms Pow is clearly intent on rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic than saving the ship from destruction. She just another Tory lightweight ‘keeping up appearances’.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.