Seabrook criticises RSPB peat survey for missing out Sun team

Poll of garden writers fuels further debate on use of peat-based products in horticulture industry.

Compost: peat use still debated. Image: HW
Compost: peat use still debated. Image: HW

A poll by the RSPB of 27 garden writers which found 12 use "a little" peat, 12 use "no peat", four use "half peat and half peat free", and two use "mostly peat based compost" has been criticised by Sun gardening editor and peat use defender Peter Seabrook for missing out his team.

Of those surveyed, 25 work in the garden media and two, Mark Gregory and Tom Stuart-Smith, are garden designers.

RSPB representative Nik Shelton said more people were asked but did not respond. The group was chosen because they were "influential", he explained. However, Seabrook, gardening editor of the biggest circulation gardening pages in the Sun, said he was not asked.

Shelton called for a levy on peat products and said that more people would buy peat-free if it sat alongside peat products at a cheaper price in the garden centre.

"Just because it's cheaper it is not necessarily any excuse. Using it is destroying habitats and releasing large amounts of carbon," he said.

He maintained that Alan Titchmarsh and Bob Flowerdew were out of touch for using peat, while Alys Fowler and "the younger generation of bloggers" were more in tune with current environmental thinking.


- How much peat-based compost do you use? None: 41%; small amount: 41%; mostly/half peat: 18%; peat only: 0 per cent.

- Do you agree with the Government's aim to phase out peat products? Yes: 63%; no: 22%; undecided: 15%.

- Do consumers know enough about the environmental impact of peat products to make an informed decision? Yes: 11%; no: 85%; don't know: 4%.


Peter Seabrook, gardening editor, The Sun

"This comes out every Easter and is the usual misleading propaganda written to promote the RSPB. I wasn't asked and neither were Steve and Val Bradley. They just asked soft representatives. The RSPB should put its own house in order before attacking other industries."

Alys Fowler, garden writer

"There needs to be more education about the benefits of non-peat compost - it can be just as effective as peat. As well as reducing carbon emissions and protecting peat bog habitats, peat-free compost is also a great way to recycle waste. Just as we do not have endless peat bogs, we also do not have bottomless landfill sites."

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