The horticultural industry warns UK gardeners of a potential plant shortage by 2027, if the ban on peat is brought forward with no sustainable transition employed.
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) says Defra’s plans to bring forward the ban on peat in commercial horticulture by four years could have a devastating impact on the industry.
Moving the ban on peat in commercial plant, tree, fruit, and vegetable production from 2030 to 2026 reduces the number of seasons commercial growers have to complete extensive trialling in their crop production techniques by over half.
A new HTA members survey highlights a projected shortage of 100 million purchasable plants and trees in the UK in the year immediately following the ban, resulting in a significant loss of greenery and biodiversity, depriving the nation of its natural archetypical landscapes, says the HTA.
The change in timeframe could ripple throughout the supply chain, with an estimated 68% of garden centres projected to reduce staff numbers too.
The UK is ahead of the rest of Europe in eliminating professional peat use, with current levels already 50% below previous data, and total removal on schedule for the original 2030 deadline.
New data from the HTA indicates a high likelihood of plant availability being severely impacted if the ban on professional peat use is brought closer by the outlined four growing seasons timeframe.
James Barnes, chairman of the HTA, says: “We urge the government to reconsider the timeline and ensure a manageable transition away from peat use, allowing adequate time for growers to successfully and sustainably trial and adapt their methods and materials. By doing so, we can protect jobs, preserve biodiversity, and continue to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits that arise from our connection with nature.
“Given these statistics and the impending threat of a shortage of plants and trees, it is crucial to reassess the accelerated peat ban. The HTA calls for collaborative and responsive engagement with Defra to gain clarity on the policy shift and seek alternative solutions that strike a balance between environmental goals and the wellbeing of the horticultural industry, as well as the wellbeing of the nation.”