Dublin Fingal TD and Fine Gael Climate Action Spokesperson, Deputy Alan Farrell, has said that while the support measures announced today are welcome, it is imperative that the Irish horticulture sector is given clarity around supply of peat as soon as possible.
Deputy Farrell said, “Government Ministers today announced a series of supports designed to help the Irish horticulture sector, including 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.
“While these measures are welcome, I believe that providing clarity without undue delay will be vital to the stability of the horticulture sector which plays a vital role in our country.
“I have been in communication for some time with Minister Malcom Noonan on this matter and while I believe we must aim to find an alternative to peat in the long-term, we cannot leave the industry without viable and sustainable options in the immediate-term.
Deputy Farrell continued, “While some level of import cannot be ruled out, we must pursue every option available domestically within the regulatory system.”
Speaking at a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action last week, Deputy Farrell reiterated his call for limited peat extraction, in line with regulations, to support the horticulture sector in the short-term.
Deputy Farrell said, “We have done the right thing; we’ve stopped peat extraction for energy purposes and we are involved in heavy engagement in bog restoration, yet we are importing peat for certain sectors that don’t require it and for other sectors that absolutely do and won’t but survive without it.
“The importation of peat is far more carbon emitting than small scale extraction, while alternatives are worked upon for the sectors that need it most.
“It appears that certain sectors, particularly horticulture, would be self-sufficient with a small amount of peat extraction, in conjunction with re-growth and restoration of bogs.”