A fair and functional system is needed to phase out the peat harvest by 2030, according to a representative horticultural group.
Growing Media Ireland (GMI) called for the implementation of a transition system to allow time for horticulturalists to develop alternatives.
They argue that all sectors of Irish horticulture – including mushroom and berry producers – are affected by the current planning system for peat extraction.
A 2019 High Court ruling ruled that peat mining in areas larger than 30 hectares can only take place if a building permit is obtained. This has given rise to controversy due to the import of large units of peat from other European countries such as Latvia.
In a statement, GMI said: “With peat available for harvesting close to processing facilities in Ireland, it makes no sense to continue importing peat at a high cost not only to growers and growers. , but also for the environment. ”
In a recent debate by Seanad on the issue, Minister Peter Burke said he had “no problem” supporting the exemption of peat mining from the planning process.
He said: “However, a clear policy is needed to provide an alternative regime to be offered to ensure that EU environmental standards are met.”
GMI President John Neenan called peat “essential” for producers and the safety of the food they produce.
He said: “If we do not have a fair system in place by the end of the year, the Irish horticultural sector will inevitably lose out, as our competitors in the UK and the Netherlands will be in the lead.
“The rest of the EU has taken a practical approach to phase out the use of peat in horticulture. The current situation in Ireland is that we have to import peat which causes more damage to the environment than buying it from us with a viable licensing system. at least two shipments of approximately 4000 tonnes each month to meet the needs of producers.