Suppliers reveal extent of peat shortage

Harvest difficulties caused by wet weather conditions lead to big increase in peat prices and severe reduction in supplies.

Some peat suppliers warning of possible rationing for customers - image: HW
Some peat suppliers warning of possible rationing for customers - image: HW

Peat prices are up by 20 per cent and supplies down by up to 70 per cent thanks to the wet harvesting season, leaving suppliers now talking of dire shortages.

Some are warning of rationing for customers and running out by March. Clover Peat Product sales and marketing manager Andrew Peers said: "We're up the creek without a paddle. It's been a dire year with regard to weather.

"The peat harvest is dire. It's been the worst since 1947 and there's nothing we can do until the sun shines. We're going to struggle to supply our customers with their full requirements. I don't know when we're going to start harvesting again but if we do get on in March we might just make it."

He said industry harvests were 70 per cent down and prices have firmed. "We're not prepared to blend other products with ours because it changes the nature of the product. It's most likely some products will become unavailable and big bulk users will suffer." He added that baled product would be short because it is too wet to bale and "growers will certainly face some difficulty getting what they want".

Erin Horticulture managing director John Molloy said: "We expect to survive for another year, but everybody is low this year. We are struggling and trying to help each other." He added that Erin will continue to work "closely" with neighbouring giant Bord na Mona, which only harvested 37 per cent of normal amounts this year.

Chat Moss Minister's decision means peat bog cannot be used

William Sinclair Horticulture has lost the use of its leased Chat Moss bog in Salford after a ruling by local government minister Eric Pickles. The public enquiry followed concerns about the environment and conservation.

Pickles said: "The Government's view is that the use of peat in horticulture is unsustainable and it has also to be set against the consequences of peat extraction on climate change and biodiversity."

There were nearly 600 objections to the work from environmental groups, which argued that it would release huge amounts of carbon dioxide.

Sinclair managing director Bernard Burns said extraction was allowable from previously used sites but the minister had decided it would "frustrate moves from peat to non-peat".

Burns added that the ruling, which only applies to England, will mean greater CO2 emissions from imports. Prices are up by 20 per cent, he said, with "small Irish companies having sold their last lorry-load already. If a garden centre wants supply in the season, nothing's going to be there."

See www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/decisionsplanning/secretarystate/recentsecretary.


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