Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the sale of peat in horticulture.
A ban on the sale of peat-based compost would be incredibly welcome. I support an end to the harvesting of peat.
The Government has recognised that voluntary targets on this have not worked and, as you know, has pledged to consult in 2021 on banning the sale of peat and peat-containing products by the end of the Parliament in 2024. However, I believe it must not drag its feet on this and we must see an outright ban.
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 2020, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommended the UK bans peatland burning by the end of 2020 and restores 55% of peatlands by 2050.
The CCC report was clear that protecting our peatlands is a precondition for meeting our net zero obligations and for mitigating the effects of the global heating we already see.
The majority of peatlands are in poor condition and the effort required to restore them all will be huge. I am concerned the Government’s England Peat Action Plan, which was published three years late, is not sufficiently ambitious or detailed to meat the scale of the crisis we are facing.
In May, during the Report Stage of the Environment Bill, I supported an Opposition amendment to prevent peat burning across all upland areas in England. The impact peat burning has on our environment is profound. It is troubling that the Government’s pledge to restore 35,000 hectares of peatland by 2025 is only one tenth of the 355,000 hectares of the blanket bog peatland that need to be restored in England, and that there are no clear targets for peatland restoration after 2025. Disappointingly, this amendment was voted down.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue. I will continue to call for action on the sale of peat and for a fool-proof strategy to restore and protect peatlands as a vital carbon sink.