Defra: no assessment made to ban artificial grass

Kim Leadbeater MP has asked Defra what recent assessment it has made of the impact of artificial grass on natural habitats and the wider environment.

artificial grass

Defra minister Rebecca Pow replied: "The Government has not made a formal ecological assessment of the impact of the use of plastic grass in residential or commercial settings, however we continue to use available research to understand the impacts on biodiversity. We recognise that, in itself, artificial grass has no value for wildlife. Its installation can have negative impacts on soil health, biodiversity and drainage for flood prevention or alleviation if installed in place of natural earth or more positive measures such as planting flowers or trees or providing natural water features."

However, lawn expert David Hedges Gower of Modern Lawn Care said: "Me [sic] and many others assume that Governments lead. That people in such authority prevent the problems before they start but as we know the use of carpet or plastic in gardens is already off the scale.  [This is] a typical statement that when we have more knowledge, we may make a decision. 

"That said, does it take an expert opinion when in the very same statement, it says it has no place and value?

"It must be said, that if plastic carpeting our lawns was the answer, what the hell was the question?  And given the belief were not sure of its impact yet, then surely it must be deemed as good, so maybe plastic has more place in plants, trees and more.

"If there is a lack of knowledge or facts, then why are we banning many other plastics?  This is simply a case of ignorance and typical of governance where anyone is frightened to make a decision.  Apart from those working in the industry (carpet fitters, yes that’s what they are) and non-recyclers (dump sites or incinerators) who would disagree with such a ban?

"The lawn industry or garden industry is part of the problem here too.  Badly built lawns by designers and landscapers and a grass turf-ryegrass) that is doomed to fail (and does)  Cheap quality turf instead of native grasses that cover all our country (and don’t fail when being cared for by a herd of sheep for eg)  Football and sports are not lawns. These industries rely on replacement technology and this turf has filtered into our lawns when it has no place )although its great sales for lawn companies and seed merchants)."

Pow added: "Our 25 Year Environment Plan sets out our ambition to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. Given the scale of the plastics problem, we need to take a targeted and evidence-led approach to tackling the issues of plastic waste. We will continue to review the latest evidence on problematic products and materials to take a systematic approach to reducing the use of unnecessary plastic products.

"Improving biodiversity is a key objective for the Government. We prefer to help people and companies make the right choice, rather than banning or taxing items outright. For example, the Environment Act 2021 introduced a number of policies that will support the restoration of habitat. Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) and a strengthened biodiversity duty on public authorities will work together to drive action, including to create or restore habitats that enable wildlife to recover and thrive, while conservation covenants will help secure habitat for the long term."

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