Industry meets minister Richard Benyon to discuss peat

Bodies and companies with an interest in the peat issue met this week at Defra with minister Richard Benyon, who is working on the peat use consultation.

Some delegates hoped the government would make concessions about peat-reduction targets but this is not believed to have happened.

The HTA report that the Government intends to continue with a voluntary target-based approach, ahead of the white paper to be issued on 7 June, which is likely to make official Government plans to stop amateur peat use by 2020 and professional use by 2030.

Defra had reviewed all the responses to the recent consultation and are now finalising policy plans.

Defra said it would try and have the issue addressed at a European level.

Defra is also to investigate resources for the industry to research alternatives, including, at the suggestion of the HTA, the use of current agri-environment schemes for funding this.

HTA director general David Gwyther said: "It is now clear that Government will stand firm in wanting to reduce peat use.  Our meeting with Defra has re-assured us however, that they have listened to our concerns, encouraging a voluntary approach and protecting the position of UK growers. 

"The HTA will continue to support the garden industry – both growers and retailers, as well as growing media suppliers - in dealing with peat reduction policy. In particular we will continue to support both the Growing Media Association (GMA) and the GMI, both of which have been vital in establishing a sensible way forward for the entire industry."

Details of Defra’s proposed policy will appear in the Natural Environment White Paper to be published in June.

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