Deputy Martin Browne: highlighted impact of horticultural peat ban on Premier County
Tipperary Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne has told Minster Pippa Hackett the ban on harvesting horticultural peat is impacting the industry in County Tipperary.
He warned of a crisis unless the warnings of the industry were listened to.
“Before the ban on the harvesting of peat came into effect, the horticultural industry had been using a minuscule amount of all peat harvested by Bord na Mona,” he said.
But Deputy Browne said that the fixed position Minster Hackett and Minister Malcolm Noonan had taken when it came to reducing harvesting on bogs, had resulted in horticultural peat being imported, creating a significant carbon footprint, and increasing the costs of the product itself.
“I have been told by a County Tipperary nursery owner that the cost of acquiring peat in this manner has increased the cost from €24 per cubic meter to €37, and that he feels the sector has been abandoned,” said the Cashel TD.
He said that similar challenges were also on the minds of the mushroom sector who were absolutely dependent on horticultural peat.
“Right now there are no viable alternatives to horticultural peat apart from importing it, which is a point made by Teagasc.
“The alternatives that are available are not suitable for the industries’ needs, and many substandard substitutes are not farmed sustainably where they come from,” he said.
Deputy Browne said that there was a need to be realistic.
“The harvesting of horticultural peat is so minuscule that preventing it from happening is going to do no favours for the environment, and no favour for our horticultural and mushroom industries,” said the TD.
“It’s like the forestry sector. How do you expect to attract new entrants to a market which is valuable in terms of carbon sequestration - when the sector is left to wither on the vine?” he asked.
He also asked if Ireland was going to become a country that willingly reversed a situation in which its mushroom industry employed over 3,000 people and exported over 80% of its produce to the UK?
“If current policy persists this sector may decide it is better to move to the continent altogether. The harvesting of horticultural peat is different from the harvesting of peat as a fossil fuel and must be permitted in a sustainable manner,” he said.
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