National Trust members vote to ban peat

A resolution to ban the use of peat at all National Trust properties was carried at the UK heritage organisation's AGM in Belfast.

The vote against peat was resounding with a majority of 92,863. Only 6,5157 members voted against the resolution.

A ban on UK commercial peat extraction has been requested by several environmental groups (see related story) and there are hopes that the Government will take measures to restrict the practice in the Wildlife Bill. The bill is expected to be announced in the Queen’s Speech next week.

The vulnerability of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) to commercial exploitation and general degradation may increase the chances of peat restrictions being introduced.

The National Trust decision on peat is significant both in terms of added publicity to the anti-peat lobby and reductions in the use of peat. The organisation is the UK’s largest private land owner, owning and managing 183 gardens and 93 parks.

Mike Calnan, head of gardens at the National Trust, was pleased by the outcome of the AGM vote: “Peat is a finite resource and its continued depletion leads to the loss of irreplaceable archaeological remains and the disappearance of wildlife habitats. The National Trust is working with its commercial suppliers to find peat alternative composts that are both sustainable and profitable for the nursery industry. The National Trust hopes that its position and commitment to continued research will encourage everyone from professional horticulturists to amateur gardeners to use peat-free materials.”

Trials using a variety of peat alternatives will take place at National Trust gardens beginning next year.

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