Closed petition Ban the use of peat in horticulture and all growing media by 2023.

Peat bogs and moors are extremely important in the fight against the climate emergency; sequestering carbon better than many natural landscapes, reducing flooding and are great for biodiversity.The plan to stop peat use by 2030 is too late, and needs to be brought forward. Peat imports should cease.

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Peat currently makes up 40% of growing media used by the public, and over 60% of that used in the professional sector. There are other materials such as coir, composted wood and leafmould which can be used. Peatlands should not be mined, but protected and encouraged.

The government should immediately rescind extraction licences and compensate companies, and by the end of 2023 have all UK peatlands properly protected, and all growing media peat-free.

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Government responded

This response was given on 4 June 2021

In the England Peat Action Plan, we have committed to publishing a consultation in 2021 on banning the sale of peat and peat containing products in the amateur sector by the end of this Parliament.

The Government is committed to protecting and restoring our vulnerable peatlands in England. We have always been clear of the need to end the use of peat in horticultural products in England and want this transition to be as seamless as possible for the industry. While there has been some progress, the voluntary target to phase out the use of peat in horticulture in the amateur sector by 2020, set in 2011, has not succeeded. On the 18th May 2021 we published the England Peat Action Plan, within which we committed to publishing a full consultation in 2021 on banning the sale of peat and peat containing products in the amateur sector by the end of this Parliament. We will also be setting an absolute deadline to ban the sale of peat in the professional sector.

We are engaging with the industry on making the transition to peat alternatives as seamless as possible. We will continue to work with the industry to develop a Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Growing Media, which allows manufacturers and retailers to make informed choices of growing media inputs to amateur/retail products, to ensure that the environmental footprint of peat alternatives is minimised. We have jointly funded research with the industry on peat replacements in professional horticulture.

We are also currently co-funding with the horticultural industry monitoring of the composition of growing media (including peat) supplied for amateur and professional use in the horticultural market. Monitoring statistics show that the investment manufacturers and retailers have made in peat alternatives has started to feed into the market: in 2019 the volume of peat sold in growing media was 2.06 million m3 compared with 2.76 million m3 in 2011. This represents a 25% decrease in the volume of peat sold in growing media from 2011 to 2019. However, the volume of peat sold in the UK rose by 9% in 2020 due to unprecedented demand throughout the year and the impact of the global pandemic on the supply chains for alternative materials. 
    
We will continue to work with the industry to identify blockages and work across government and the private sector to develop and enact solutions to ending the use of peat and peat containing products.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Other parliamentary business

UK biodiversity report published by MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee

The Environmental Audit Committee has published its report on 'Biodiversity in the UK: bloom or bust', which calls for the Government to conserve and restore UK biodiversity and ecosystems.
 
The report is published amid grave concern that of the G7 countries, the UK has the lowest level of biodiversity remaining.
 
The MPs on the Committee found that existing Government policy and targets were inadequate to address plummeting biodiversity loss. This is made worse by nature policy not being joined up across Government, nor is nature protection consistently factored into policy making.
 
Some key recommendations made by the Committee include:
- The Government must establish a timetable to put management plans and monitoring in place for all Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), with different categories of destructive bottom trawling banned or restricted. More MPAs should be established as 'no-take' zones
- In the next Spending Review, greater funding must be given to Natural England which reflects its responsibilities and tasks.
- The Government should commission a review identifying and tracking public expenditure harmful to biodiversity. Once identified, Ministers must act to remove harmful subsidies and re-direct money to nature conservation and recovery.
- Tree planting should not occur on peat soils
- Education on biodiversity must increase: a Natural History GCSE should be introduced and investment in skills should be increased for chartered ecology and associated disciplines.
 
Read an interactive summary of the report:
https://houseofcommons.shorthandstories.com/uk-biodiversity-bloom-or-bust/index.html
 

What happens next?

The Government now must respond to the Committee's report, which was published on 30 June 2021, within two months. The Committee will publish the Government’s response here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/62/environmental-audit-committee/
 

What is the Environmental Audit Committee?

The Environmental Audit Committee is a cross-party group of non-Government MPs who look into how Government policies and departments contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development.
  
Follow the Committee on Twitter for updates on its work:
https://twitter.com/CommonsEAC
 
The Environmental Audit Committee is a select committee. Find out how Select Committees work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c