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Ministers consider ban on peat compost within three years to cut carbon

British gardeners could be banned from buying compost made with peat within three years, under new proposals released by the Government today.

Peatlands are crucial carbon stores but disturbing them releases stored greenhouse gases and destroys natural habitats.

Studies suggest UK peatlands are in poor condition and getting worse, a trend that needs to be reversed for the UK to meet its climate goals.

But around 40 per cent of compost sold to UK gardeners still contains peat, with sales growing by nine per cent last year.

“Our peatlands are an incredibly valuable natural resource,” said Environment Secretary Rebecca Pow. “They play a crucial role in locking up carbon, provide habitats for wildlife and help with flood mitigation.”

A ban on the sale of peat compost to amateur gardeners was first proposed by the Government in May, after the industry failed to phase out its use voluntarily. It would take effect by 2024.

A ban is the Government’s preferred option, but today’s consultation also sets out other approaches to curb the use of peat compost. These include a sales charge on bags of compost that contain peat, and mandatory labelling warning shoppers of the environmental impacts of buying peat compost.

“The amateur gardening sector has made huge strides in reducing peat use and there are more sustainable and good quality peat-free alternatives available than at any other time, so I am confident now is the right time to make the shift permanent,” said Minister Pow.

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But conservations said the Government has not gone far enough, pointing out that any ban would only apply to amateur gardeners rather than the entire horticulture industry.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said the consultation was a “damp squib” and called for an immediate ban on all peat sales, peat extraction and peat imports. “It’s vital that UK governments ensure peatlands function as nature intended by taking urgent action right now,” he said.

Meanwhile the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said the government needed to provide more support to help people create their own compost at home.



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