Gardening societies feel left out of peat talks

Amateur gardeners told a conference last week that they feel they have not been given a voice on the issue of using peat or the Government's planned phase-out targets that include a voluntary ban on retail sales in 2020.

They told an information conference at on Future Growing Composts for Gardeners they felt unrepresented in the debate.

Among the points raised were that they had not been given all the information they needed to fully understand the issue, and had not been consulted by the government about its policy.

Many felt they did not understand all the issues involved. One asked how amateur gardeners could get their views across to the sustainable growing media task-force when they were not represented there.

"Before today, I felt guilty about using peat," said another delegate, who described herself as an RHS member. "It's clearer now that there is much more to the issue."

The conference was prompted by requests from members of gardening societies, said organiser and grower Graham Ward.

In response to a question about how amateur gardeners could get involved in the debate, he advised writing letters to Defra, to the task force or to their MP. "You could also write to the newspapers. There are a number of ways to get your views over," he said.

He added: "People have spent a lot of money looking at alternatives, but my problem with the White Paper is the arbitrary dates. They are removing your choice - it is a question of fairness."

Attending the conference, Melcourt technical director Catherine Dawson, who is a member of the Defra task force, advised that the group's progress could be followed on the task force's website. "The work of the task force is supposed to be completely transparent," she said.

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