The consultation sets out a new long-term goal to eliminate peat use by all gardeners, growers and procurers by 2030 at the latest, by switching to more sustainable, peat-free alternatives.

The UK currently uses three million cubic metres of peat per annum for horticulture. 69% of this is used by amateur gardeners and 30% is used by professional growers.

As peat is effectively a non-renewable resource, the extraction of peat for horticulture is unsustainable, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and damage to rare habitats and archaeology.

Natural environment minister, Richard Benyon, said:”The horticultural industry has made real progress in reducing peat use, but I want to see peat eliminated from the amateur gardener market by 2020.

“We need to go further if we are to protect our natural environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This will be challenging, but more sustainable and good quality peat-free alternatives are already available, and I believe it is achievable for peat to be phased out in all markets before 2030.”

The consultation includes proposals to phase out use of peat by the public sector by 2015, the amateur gardener market by 2020 and professional growers of fruit, vegetables and plants by 2030.

DEFRA will consult with a wide range of interested parties, including DIY retailers, garden centres, growing media manufacturers, Local Authorities and Non-Government Organisations.

The consultation responses will feed into the Natural Environment White Paper that will be published in the spring.

Alison Brown

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