The horticultural industry is simply running out of time for a solution to the peat problem, says Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty.
“The livelihoods of these growers of fresh Irish fruit, vegetables, flowers, and shrubs and the 17,000 jobs have never been so at risk.
We simply cannot kick this can down the road any longer,” she insisted.
“Every fortnight that this is delayed another 3,600t of imported peat arrives in Ireland, with carbon emissions exploding to five times more than if we were to harvest Irish peat from Irish bogs.
“This does not make sense in any person’s language; how can Ireland be a leader in tackling climate change if our policies result in extortionate carbon leakage and termination of an entire industry,” she questioned.
Senator Doherty has called on the Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan to publish the report by the Working Group which was established to review of the use of peat moss in the horticultural industry.
“The minister and his department must act immediately and publish this report so we can find a resolution through legislation, to allow for peat to be harvested for the sole purpose for the Irish horticultural industry, until a sustainable alternative to peat is developed.
“The Working Group has held 11 constructive meetings to review the use of peat in the horticultural sector.
“An interim report was sent to the minister in May and now the final report has been completed and is sitting on his desk since the 20 October waiting to be published,” she said.
‘’Only a few weeks ago during a debate in the Seanad I scheduled I met with the many growers outside Leinster House that are begging for a solution. The effects of all of this will be broadcast this Thursday on RTÉ’s Ear to the Ground.
“The deadline in which to get this issue solved is fast approaching and the relevant departments along with Dáil and Seanad Éireann must play their part for the future of Irish fresh food produce, but also for our climate and green objectives.
‘’A just solution which will lead to a just transition for our horticultural industry is what we need right now.
“Therefore, publishing this report and acting upon its recommendations must happen without any more delays,” she concluded.