The Programme for Government makes a number of commitments in respect of the horticulture sector, in particular to review the supports available to the horticultural sector, encourage greater expansion and growth in the sector and to invest in the promotion of Irish horticultural products and enhance capital investment available to horticultural producers.
On 7 September 2020, the Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform published a report on the review of the use of peat moss in the horticultural industry. The report was prepared by an inter-agency working group following on from the submissions received in response to the publication of an issues paper on the review. Arising from the report, the Minister of State intends to establish 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 which have been identified during the review. The report recommends that the working group consider investment in further research into the development, education and use of alternatives to peat moss and graduating the elimination of the use of peat moss in the horticulture industry over an agreed period of years.
The High Court judgement in September 2019 to set-aside Regulations introduced to amend the existing consenting process means that planning permission and an Environmental Impact Assessment are required for large-scale peat extraction. In light of this decision, my Department is engaging with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, together with the Attorney General's Office to ensure the Ireland's legislation is in-line with all relevant EU legislation.