The money needed to fund peatland restoration measures in NI should not come from the existing farm support budget, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has said.

“Funding must be found from elsewhere if government believes this is such an important public good,” said UFU deputy president William Irvine.

A series of broad targets for peatland restoration were contained within a DAERA consultation in June, including that all semi-natural peatland vegetation is managed for “biodiversity and ecosystem function” by 2040.

However, Irvine points out that the department give no details about the costs associated with achieving these targets.

Similar concerns have also been raised about DAERA’s proposal to phase out the “use, import and sale” of peat compost in NI by 2025.

The Horticulture Forum, an umbrella body for the sector in NI, point out that growers still rely on peat for plant propagation and mushroom production, despite “huge investments” being made in research to find an alternative.