Thursday, 14 October 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
231. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures he will introduce as a matter of urgency to ensure that there is an adequate supply of domestic peat for the mushroom and horticulture sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50312/21]
232. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will ensure that the concerns of the mushroom and horticulture sector in relation to the harvesting of horticultural peat are addressed in view of the importance of peat for that sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50313/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 231 and 232 together.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is well aware of the concerns in relation to the licensing of peat abstraction which are generating challenges (volume and price) for the horticulture sector.
Peat extraction is subject to a planning process under the remit of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and an Integrated Pollution Control license process under the remit of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. As such, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has no involvement in its regulation.
Malcolm Noonan T.D., Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, published a report on the review of the use of Peat Moss in the Horticultural Industry. The review report recommended the establishment of a working group to examine the issues raised, including graduating the elimination of the use of peat moss in the Horticultural Industry over an agreed period of years with an agreed end date. The working group which includes a representative from my Department will address the key issues raised in the report itself, including future use and supply of peat by the horticulture sector. A final report from this working group is expected at the end of October.
Separately, my Department is actively looking at alternatives to peat and has funded two research projects to date. Furthermore, the Department’s Research Call for 2021 included a call for further research on alternatives to peat based growing media for horticultural production.
I continue to engage directly with the sector, most recently meeting with the Mushroom Industry on the issues they face. Minister of State Pippa Hackett has ongoing engagement directly with the horticulture sector, and has responsibility for the sector, including in her capacity as co-chair of the Horticulture Industry Forum, across a range of issues, including peat use.