Garden Organic welcomes England Peat Action Plan as a step in the right direction

  • Last updated: 6 October 2022

Garden Organic welcomes the England Peat Action plan as a step in the right direction. Launched on Tuesday 18th May, the plan includes a statement that Defra is proposing to ban peat in bagged composts by the end of 2024, after decades of campaigning by organisations including Garden Organic.

Peat bogs are rare ecosystems – wild areas which are home to a wealth of plants, birds and insects. They also store three times more carbon than a forest. We fully support Monty Don’s statement that digging out peat for use in garden compost is ‘environmental vandalism’.

In their England Peat Action Plan, Defra announced the following:

“We will consult on banning the sale of peat and peat containing products in the amateur sector by the end of this parliament.

  • We will publish a full consultation in 2021 to examine the feasibility of the following measures, to end the use of horticultural peat in both the amateur and professional sectors:
  • Setting absolute deadlines to ban the sale of peat in both the amateur and professional sectors.
  • Introducing a point-of-sale charge for the purchase of growing media containing peat. This could use the plastic bag charge as a model.
  • Mandating all sellers of horticultural products containing peat, including plants, to publicly report on the volume of peat they sell each year (in bags or plant pots).
  • Issuing a call for evidence on the wider uses of peat and peat products in the retail sector; for example - grass turf production, cosmetics and industries where peat forms part of the production process.”

The plan also announced that Defra will:

  • Continue to work with the industry to understand the implications of these proposals, identify blockages and work across government and the private sector to develop and enact solutions.
  • Work with and challenge the horticultural sector to reduce the reliance on peat in growing media and associated products in order to prepare the sector for legislation.
  • Continue to support the industry’s Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Growing Media to ensure that the environmental footprint of peat alternatives is minimised.
  • Actively promote the benefits of peat-free growing media to gardeners through public awareness and education; to help shift the demand to peat-free alternatives in advance of legislation, and to soils improvers where they are more appropriate.
  • Identify opportunities to work with the devolved administrations to develop a UK wide approach to horticultural peat and related products.

At Garden Organic, we welcome the announcement that Defra are proposing to ban peat in bagged composts by the end of 2024, and are heartened to read that they plan to support the ban with public awareness and education. However there is still a long way to go. We will await information on the steps they will take within the professional sector, where we have seen a voluntary ban have little or no effect.

We will be taking the opportunity to feed into the consultation when it takes place over the summer, and will encourage our members and supporters to do the same.

We have seen a rising tide of gardeners keen to adopt organic and sustainable practices in their growing spaces, for the benefit of human health, the environment and biodiversity. Eliminating peat from horticulture takes us one step nearer a sustainable horticultural future. We need to stop the use of peat throughout the whole horticultural sector as soon as possible and would like to thank everyone who has supported our campaigning, including our current For Peat’s Sake campaign, so far.

As part of this campaign, we are encouraing gardeners to let us know their views on peat use by completing a short survey. Information gathered via the survey will help us know how to support growers in the move to peat-free gardening. You can complete the survey here.