IFA national horticulture chair Paul Brophy has said that it seems what Minister Pippa Hackett is most interested in is “window-dressing” for Green Party voters.
The comments come in the wake of a protest that is being held by horticultural growers, led by IFA president Tim Cullinan, who are protesting outside Leinster House in Dublin today.
The protest is to highlight the ongoing challenges around harvesting horticultural peat and its central role in the sector.
The matter will be raised in the Seanad this afternoon, where senators will question the logic of importing peat when we could source it here.
The importation of peat will increase the environmental footprint of Irish growers
Brophy commented: “It appears that creating an unanticipated environmental issue elsewhere is not important, as long as peat harvesting is no longer taking place in Ireland.
“The importation of peat will increase the environmental footprint of Irish growers while placing them at a severe competitive disadvantage,” he said.
Getting it wrong
Speaking on the subject, Tim Cullinan said: “It’s another example of climate action getting it wrong. We held a protest on this issue last July.
“Since then, this Government has done nothing to resolve this disastrous situation. The Ministers in charge have abandoned horticulture growers.
“If action is not taken immediately, this Government will ultimately be responsible for the demise of this sustainable sector,” he said.
“We fully appreciate the environmental importance of peatlands and the need to look at alternative substrates for use in the horticulture sector.
“However, there is currently no viable alternative to peat for the majority of operators in the commercial horticulture sector,” he added.
Last month, some 3,600t of horticultural peat arrived from Latvia into Drogheda Port.
Some ministers and environmental groups are even recommending coir as an alternative despite its environmental credentials being akin to palm oil production.
The consultation group convened by Minister Malcolm Noonan earlier this year has met on 12 occasions.
Every possible alternative has been discussed at length, but the final report is still outstanding.