Restrictions on harvesting horticultural peat are “a fiasco” says Galway TD

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East Galway TD Sean Canney has described restrictions imposed on the harvesting of horticultural peat as “a fiasco” as he says imports of the same material are increasing on a weekly basis.

The Independent TD said that it is typical of a decision being made to end production of a ‘badly needed’ product in our country without an alternative plan to supply the market being put in place.

“The reality of restricting harvesting horticultural peat in Ireland before a viable alternative was in place to fill the void has raised issues around the difficult situation this policy raises for the Horticulture industry and the lack of planning in implementing Government’s Climate Action policies,” said Deputy Canney.

He said that the restrictions imposed on the harvesting of horticultural peat in Ireland has led to the importation recently of a shipment of 3,600 tonnes of horticultural peat into Ireland to meet the demand of Irish horticultural growers in the absence of any viable alternative.

“It is extremely unfortunate that Ireland is now dependent on imported horticultural peat. While the 3,600 tonnes imported last week was one of the first to come into a port south of the border, 6 such shipments for the Irish market have been brought onto the island in the last 7 weeks; and this is low demand season,” he said.

“Each shipment requires 200 trucks to deliver peat to the port in the Baltic for loading, each ship travels 3,000 km and once in Ireland a further 200 trucks are required to unload each shipment.”

The Galway TD said the negative environmental consequences of importing horticultural peat are obvious to all but a few, yet just 0.12% (just over one tenth of 1%) of total Irish peatlands were used for horticultural peat.

“As it is now an accepted fact that no viable alternatives will be available for a decade to meet the demand of the Irish Horticultural sector such shipments are likely to be a fortnightly and perhaps weekly reality for years to come.”

“The additional cost of importing horticultural peat will also have a direct impact on the price horticultural growers will have to pay for this vital ingredient and the cost the consumer will have to pay for Irish fruit and vegetables grown in imported horticultural peat.”

“Introducing a fair and workable licensing system to allow for the phasing out of horticultural peat harvesting over a transition period to 2030 to allow alternatives to be developed is the only way of ensuring that there is a secure supply of growing media during that period.”