The Wildlife Trusts said it was “bitterly disappointed” after the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs set out plans to ban all peat products by 2030.
Defra confirmed that while some peat products will be banned in 2027, others will be exempt for a further three years.
Last year, the government pledged to ban the sale of bagged peat compost in England by the end of 2024, and the Trusts had hoped that this would lead to a ban on all peat products “shortly” after.
Ailis Watt, peat policy officer at The Wildlife Trusts said, “The destruction of irreplaceable peatlands for gardening should have been outlawed long ago. These precious habitats are vital for nature and for our climate because they store vast amounts of carbon and are home to some of the UK’s most special wildlife. We need to see far greater levels of ambition if the UK is to relinquish its status as one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth or come close to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Peatlands must be better protected as a matter of urgency.”
Citing data from the Growing Media Monitor, the Wildlife Trusts said plug plants and mushroom production alone made up 42% of all peat used by professional growers in 2021.
The Wildlife Trusts are calling upon the UK Government to:
- Ban the extraction and commercial trade of peat immediately
- Ban all horticultural uses of peat as soon as parliamentary timeframes allow, or by 2024 at the latest
- Restore all bogs damaged by the removal of peat by 2030
Watted added, “The decision to allow the sale of peat-containing products to continue until 2030 does not reflect the value of peatlands – here and abroad – and is at odds with this Government’s manifesto commitment to ‘deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth’.
“It contradicts the notion that gardening is an activity which is beneficial to nature and places a burden of responsibility on the consumer to ensure they are not inadvertently buying environmentally destructive peat-based products.”
The Wildlife Trusts estimate that policy failure to stop peat extraction has caused up to 31 million tonnes of CO2 to be released since 1990.