Peat reserves to be depleted ‘by August or September’

A TD has said that reserves of peat in the country will be depleted “by August or September” which, he said, will cause “irreparable damage” to the horticulture sector.

Sinn Féin Tipperary TD Martin Browne was speaking following a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, which heard that a working group had been set up in line with a recommendation in last year’s ‘Review of use of Peat Moss in the Horticulture Sector’ report.

Browne argued, however, that “there is no doubt” that the sector – including the mushroom sector – “cannot wait for a working group to get its act together”.

We heard today that the lack of an adjustment period for the sector means that by August or September, the reserves of peat that the horticulture industry is relying upon will be depleted and operators will face importing peat from abroad at higher prices.

This, he noted, would “leave its very own carbon footprint”.

The TDs and senators were told that a chairperson had been appointed to lead the new working group to examine the future role of peat in horticulture.

However, Browne argued that “by the time it reports back, the industry – which uses only 1% of the total peat harvested by Bord na Móna – will be irreparably damaged, and the livelihoods of thousands will be threatened”.

It was infuriating – yet enlightening – to see how the fate of the horticulture sector is being torn between numerous government departments – none of which will accept overall responsibility for the difficulties facing the sector, but all of which are involved.

The TD said he is “yet to be convinced” that the working group will be able to resolve the issues facing the sector.

“It is therefore vitally important for thousands of jobs… that the departments [of environment; agriculture; and housing, local government and heritage] listen to the horticulture sector and work together in a cohesive and coordinated way to ensure that environmental ambitions can be realised in a way the protects rural jobs,” Brown concluded.