Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (1055)

Brendan Smith

Question:

1055. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures that will be implemented to address the difficulties for the mushroom, horticulture and nursery sectors due to the difficulties arising from the cessation of peat production; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8989/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In relation to peat extraction, my Department has no involvement in its regulation. This is a planning process under the remit of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and an Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) license process, under the remit of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Regarding the future use of peat moss in the horticulture sector, on 7th September 2020, Malcolm Noonan T.D., Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, published a report on the review of the use of Peat Moss in the Horticultural Industry. The review report was prepared by an inter-agency working group following on from the submissions from stakeholders.

After the publication of this report, Minister Noonan proposed the establishment of a working group to include representatives from relevant Government Departments and State Agencies, Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations and industry stakeholders under an independent chairperson to examine the issues identified during the review. In this respect, the working group will address the key issues raised in the report itself, including future use of peat by the horticulture sector. The position of Chair for the Independent Working Group will be filled shortly. Once the Chair is in place, the setting up of the working group members can take place.

In addition to these developments, my Department is actively looking at alternatives to peat and has funded two research projects to date. It has also recently sought further research be conducted here to explore alternatives to peat based growing media for horticultural production in this area in its latest Research Call for 2021. These must be available, affordable and sustainable and meet quality as well as environmental requirements.