Defra advises that proposals for peat phase-out are only applicable to England

Defra has stressed that its proposals for the complete phase-out of peat in horticulture by 2030 are applicable to England only.

Despite soils policy specialist Judith Stuart previously saying she expected the devolved administrations to follow suit (HW, 11 February), a Defra representative has confirmed that the proposals only apply to England.

The representative advised: "Soil and peat are devolved policy issues and our consultation proposals apply to England only.

"However, Defra will continue to work closely with devolved administrations on all peat policy issues, including a reduction in the horticultural use of peat."

North of the border, a discussion paper has been launched into reducing the horticultural use of peat. A Scottish government representative said: "We believe that there is a case for phasing out the use of peat in horticulture but are still considering how this could be done."

The Welsh Assembly Government plans to reduce peat usage across horticulture, heating and electricity generation but is not currently considering a complete phase-out like planned by Defra.

A representative said: "Peat extraction for use in the horticultural industry is not actually significant in Wales because we have few lowland raised bogs or fens and those that do exist are predominantly under environmental or conservation protection."

There are currently no plans in Northern Ireland to reduce or phase out the horticultural use of peat. A Northern Ireland Assembly representative said: "There is no equivalent move in Northern Ireland on similar targets, although we have been trying to reduce the use of peat in government estates over the past few years.

"The problem, as always, is the matter of costs involved in moving to something that is more sustainable but less efficient or more expensive - there is also a degree of economic benefit for a few commercial peat extraction companies."

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