Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about peatland burning.
Our peatlands form a significant and vital part of the UK’s carbon storage, yet the burning of peat bogs releases huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere every year. In January, the Committee on Climate Change recommended that the UK bans peatland burning by the end of 2020.
I am calling on the Government to help restore degraded peatlands to their natural state by ending the harvesting of peat and the burning of moors or blanket bog. I believe a comprehensive independent review into habitats and fire risk caused by grouse shooting management arrangements, with a view to new regulatory controls, has been a long time coming.
In October 2019, the Government said it was developing a legislative response to the problem of peatland burning. However, it has yet to bring legislation forward. The Government intends to publish an English peat strategy to set its direction for restoration, protection and sustainable management. I await the publication of this strategy.
We need to better manage our natural environment, not just oversee its decline. By ending peatland burning, we could simultaneously improve biodiversity, reduce our carbon emissions and protect our communities that are increasingly under the threat of flooding. Without action, the UK risks not meeting its international obligations on carbon emissions or tackling the climate emergency.
Rhetoric on climate leadership is not enough – we need to see real leadership and action. I urge the Government to put its words into action and end the burning of peatlands.