Newbridge based Senator Fiona O’Loughlin has welcomed the series of actions announced to Support Horticultural Growers by her Government colleague Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.
This follows the publication of the Final Report of the Working Group on the Use of Peat Moss in the Horticultural Industry. The Working Group on the Use of Peat Moss in the Horticultural Industry was established following a series of High Court decisions which determined that large scale peat harvesting requires planning permission and licensing by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Working Group was tasked in particular with examining the potential of alternatives to peat for the horticultural industry. While the sector is committed to transitioning away from peat, this is not possible in the short term
Senator O’Loughlin said, “I have been in regular contact with growers and campaigners from across South Kildare in relation to the ridiculous situation they are experiencing in accessing horticultural peat.”
“Kildare is the second most affected County in terms of job loss impact as a result of the imminent ending of peat harvesting for power generation in the Midlands region. We are also at a significant disadvantage as we have a shortage of suitable sites to establish new green Enterprises that could replace the labour-intensive work of peat extraction.”
“Horticultural peat is a vital element for those in the horticultural, nursery and mushroom industry. And I have engaged extensively behind the scenes with Minister McConalogue and I pleased to see he is progressing the issue.”
“The Department will be commissioning an independent expert to work directly with growers, and suppliers, which with Bord na Móna, to determine accurately the stock levels that are available. I am also pleased that Bord na Móna have committed to working with an independent expert and the growers to see if any stocks of peat they currently have on hand could be of use to the horticulture sector, which is very welcome. Funding is also being made available to fund research to deliver alternatives to peat for the horticulture sector”
Fiona concluded “I know the difficulties that the lack of access to horticultural peat has caused many local businesses and growers. I raised in the Senate the crazy situation where 4,000 tonnes of peat were shipped from Latvia last year– which caused significant carbon emissions. It was a 3,000km journey by ship, plus 200 trucks to transport it to the port in Latvia and onload it in Ireland. We need to see this issue resolved and I am pleased to see the Department engaging proactively with this issue.”