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GMI welcomes government support for the resumption of peat harvesting

Image by martaposemuckel from Pixabay

Representative group has welcomed Minister Peter Burke’s commitment to exempting peat harvesting from the planning process

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Horticulture

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21 October 2021 | 0

Growing Media Ireland (GMI), the representative group for the majority of horticultural peat and growing media producers in Ireland, has welcomed Minister Peter Burke’s commitment to exempting peat harvesting from the planning process.

Speaking on behalf of the government at a Seanad debate on peat harvesting, Minister Burke said: “I have no issue with supporting the exemption of peat extraction from the planning process. However, clear policy is needed to provide an alternative regime to be put forward to ensure that EU environmental standards are met.”

This follows the huge shipment of almost 4,000 tonnes of horticultural peat into Drogheda Port last month. A convoy of over 200 trucks collected the freight of horticultural peat which travelled over 3,000KMs to Ireland from Latvia.

GMI welcomed the IFA horticultural growers protest outside Leinster House which took place last week, and the cross-party support in the Seanad for a fair and workable system to allow for the resumption of peat harvesting to alleviate the adverse impact on the sector.

All sectors of Irish horticulture including mushroom and small fruit and vegetable growers in North Dublin and throughout rural Ireland have been severely affected by the ban on peat harvesting. The increased cost of importing peat will inevitably be passed on to consumers and result in a rise in food prices and loss of competitiveness. With peat available to be harvested within close proximity of the processing facilities in Ireland it makes no sense to continue importing peat at a heavy cost not only to producers and growers but environmentally.

Commenting, John Neenan, chairman of GMI, said: “We welcome Minister Burke’s support on behalf of the Government for exempting peat harvesting from the planning process. However, the Government will need to act swiftly to support the 17,000 jobs across Ireland’s horticultural sector which are at risk due to the existing process.”

“We need a fair and workable licensing system introduced immediately that will provide for the phasing out of horticultural peat harvesting over a transition period to 2030, allowing alternatives to be developed within our industry. Peat is essential for our growers and the security of the food they produce. If we don’t have a fair system in place before the end of the year Ireland’s horticulture sector will inevitably lose out as our competition in the UK and the Netherlands will race ahead.

“The rest of the EU has taken a practical approach to phasing out peat use in horticulture. The situation in Ireland at present is we have to import peat which causes greater environmental damage than sourcing it at home with a workable licensing system. We need at least two shipments of around 4,000 tonnes each month to meet growers needs.”

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