TD Jackie Cahill yesterday (Thursday, February 4) rebuked the decision to shut down peat production in Ireland while importing peat from “the other side of the continent” for horticultural use.

Cahill, the chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, argued that the practice of importing peat from bogs “on the far side of Europe” made “absolutely no sense”.

The Tipperary Fianna Fáil TD said that he accepted that Ireland “must move away from fossil fuels and towards a greener, more sustainable future”.

But there is no common sense involved in importing a product that can be produced here, until a viable alternative can be sourced.

“It is completely and utterly counter-intuitive to say that we must stop harvesting all peat, even that used for horticulture and compost, for environmental reasons, and then proceed to ship that exact product from the far side of the continent,” he stressed.

Cahill added: “I understand and fully accept that we have to move away from fossil fuel production and that the harvesting of our bogs had to eventually come to an end. However, until there is a suitable alternative to the use of peat for horticulture, we should continue to harvest it in Ireland solely for this purpose.

The environment cannot be better off by importing the exact same product from the other side of the continent rather then producing it here.

“That just does not make any sense. This is putting the horticulture industry under pressure and it has to be doing more harm than good to the environment,” Cahill remarked.

He concluded: “I am calling for common sense to be adopted in this area, and for only 2% of our bog lands to be utilised for the production of peat for horticulture and compost, until an alternative can be produced in a more environmentally and economically efficient manner.”