Calls for ‘more research and more time’ before phasing out of peat moss

Senator Victor Boyhan has called for “more research and more time” before the phasing out of peat moss.

Raising the National Peatlands Strategy and the issue of peat moss in the horticultural industry along with forestry, the senator said that the long-term plan to phase out the commercial use of peat moss in the horticultural industry, as opposed to domestic horticulture and gardening, is of concern.

“I refer particularly to forestry nursery stock and mushroom production – it is critical in the production of mushrooms. We have a very successful mushroom production arrangement,” he said.

“Believe it or not, we fly mushrooms to France from our airports.

Mushrooms that were in Ireland two days ago are sitting on shelves in Paris, London and all over the world. We have a track record in this product. That is important. Peat moss is also used in organic gardening and horticulture.

He added that this will have knock-on effect on jobs.

“A balance must always be struck – I am really concerned. The curtailment of peat production will have an impact on Bord na Móna and more importantly on the communities, villages and people who derive their principal income from this work. They must have alternative employment.”

‘We need more research and time’

The senator said that the phasing out of peat moss “will be a process” and “we need more research and time”.

He continued: “We talk about a just transition, but that takes time.

We cannot just cut off the supply of horticultural peat moss until a new alternative such as wood bark or wood chippings is available. Substitutes are being trialed but the trials are not complete. That is an important factor.

The senator added that if standards in regard to commercial peat are applied, “we have to be very conscious of the issues”.

“I am hearing reports of peat being imported from other jurisdictions into Ireland, which has to be a concern, particularly in the EU context,” he added.

“If we have a policy in respect of peat and milling peat in our jurisdiction, then we have to be consistent and to stand in solidarity, if that is the right word to use, across the member states of the union.”