The government dismissed a request to reconsider its previous rejection of a phased reduction in the use of peat by 2030 and a complete end date by 2035, independent TD for Laois-Offaly, Carol Nolan, has said.

The deputy also announced that her request to the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, to reconvene the working group on horticultural peat was also dismissed.

The recently published final report of the working group on the use of peat moss in the horticultural industry stated that use should be phased out by 2035 at the latest, provided that alternative materials are available.

Previously, organisations criticised the government, claiming it had not addressed the transition period from peat to alternatives as the publication recommended.

In response to the working group report, the government has announced a series of actions which include an independent expert to determine Irish peat stocks and the commissioning of experts to provide free advice to those wanting to extract peat of bogs below 30ha.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) also said that some level of importation of peat cannot be ruled out in the short-term as “this has always been a factor” in the Irish peat industry.

Nolan said the announced actions by the government will “completely destabilise and undermine our indigenous horticultural peat sector”.

Over 40,000t of peat were imported in the last five months alone, according to the TD, who added:

“This is sheer lunacy and it is putting a €469 million horticulture industry in imminent jeopardy along with tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in rural Ireland.”

Nolan criticised the government’s proposed actions which she said dismiss concerns stated in the report by exports in the sector.

She added that the government and relevant minister “seem incapable” of realising the threat posed to horticultural sector.

“We are approaching the point of no return. The time for action and engagement is now.

“Nothing short of a full implementation of the working group’s sensible, pragmatic and just recommendations will do at this point,” Nolan concluded.