PEAT has finally been banned from sale following 40 years of campaigning by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.
The government has announced its intention to ban the sale of peat to amateur gardeners by 2024. The move has been welcomed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust due to the destruction digging peat up causes to wildlife habitats, as well as contributing to global warming.
The ban follows a public consultation, which ran from December 2021 to March 2022, and marks the first occasion that any UK government has considered legislative action to tackle the use of peat in horticulture.
Defra revealed that 95 per cent of those who responded to the consultation were in a favour of a complete retail sales ban.
This ban will apply to bagged peat compost but it is not yet clear whether peat-containing products such as plants, will also be subject to a 2024 ban.
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, alongside other key nature charities, have campaigned for an end to the needless destruction of one of the UK’s most precious wildlife habitats since the 1990s.
Peatlands have a global cooling effect when they are in their naturally wet state, and lock away carbon from dead plants for hundreds or even thousands of years.
However, when peatlands are drained and dug up for use in gardens and greenhouses, stored carbon is released in the form of CO2.
The Wildlife Trusts estimate that peat extraction for horticulture has caused up to 31 million tonnes of CO2 to be released since 1990.
Ailis Watt, peat policy officer at The Wildlife Trusts, said: “It is fantastic to see tangible progress on this critical issue after decades of campaigning. Using peat in gardens is bad news for our climate and leads to the destruction of beautiful wild places on which many of the UK’s rarest and most threatened species depend.
“The ban is expected to apply to around two-thirds of peat currently sold in England. What we need to see now is the government taking action towards a total ban on peat extraction and its use in horticulture – only then can we put an end to the decline of peatlands both in the UK and further afield.”
Some uses of peat will remain legal beyond 2024. Defra’s proposed ban targets a chunk of the UK peat market but it does not eliminate peat use entirely, nor does it directly address the issue of peat extraction.
The Wildlife Trusts are now calling upon the UK Government to:
– ban the extraction and commercial trade of peat immediately
– ban all horticultural uses of peat as soon as parliamentary timeframes allow, or by 2024 at the latest
– restore all bogs damaged by the removal of peat by 2035.