Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Horticulture Sector

Photo of Martin BrowneMartin Browne (Tipperary, Sinn Fein)
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166. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress made in the appointment of an independent expert as referenced in the working paper to address challenges related to peat supply in the horticulture sector; and if his attention has been drawn to the fact that in the meantime businesses in the horticultural sector are experiencing difficulties in raising queries with Bord na Móna regarding the availability of suitable peat stocks. [16992/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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On 17th January, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in conjunction with the Departments of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), and Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Housing) set out a working paper in place that sets out a series of actions to support the horticultural growers who are dependent on peat as a growing medium.

In these targeted actions which reflect the multi-faceted nature of the problem, Government is endeavouring to address the short-term issue of supply, the medium term one of future access to peat and also the longer-term issue of replacement with alternatives.

As one of the key short-term actions in that working paper, my Department has recruited an independent expert to work with growers, and suppliers, including Bord na Móna, to ascertain the level of horticultural peat stocks available to growers. This expert will also work with Bord na Móna, other suppliers and growers to ascertain whether or not any hobby or other peat on their estate would be of interest or value to growers. Such peat might be suitable for mixing by current suppliers to produce a growing medium of value to growers.

The second key action that was announced was the commissioning of experts to provide focussed regulatory guidance on planning to assist those wishing to extract peat in the medium term for horticulture growers. My Department has recruited planning experts for the preparation of this guidance and work is currently under way. This expert guidance document when published will provide a valuable resource to those seeking legal compliance for the abstraction of horticultural peat on sub-30 hectare bogs for supply to the domestic horticulture industry.

Horticultural businesses have not contacted me regarding difficulties in contacting Bord na Móna regarding availability of suitable peat stocks. I assure the Deputy that we are leaving no stone unturned to protect this vital sector in the short, medium and long term.


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