A peatlands strategy which aims to ensure that, where possible, all semi-natural peatlands in NI are conserved or restored by 2040 is due to be finalised in the new-year, DAERA officials told MLAs on the Stormont Agriculture committee last Thursday.

With around 12% of land area in NI covered in semi-natural peat, the new strategy is likely to affect a significant number of local farmers.

The idea is to get it right, and get everyone on board

A public consultation on the strategy, which closed on 1 September, received 67 responses.

Once the final strategy is published, the next step is to develop an implementation plan.

“It will be a very complex document. It will take some time.

“The idea is to get it right, and get everyone on board,” said Ken Bradley from DAERA.

He also highlighted that restoring peatlands so that they take in rather than emit carbon, is a slow process that will require a long-term funding commitment from government. The source of that funding is expected to be the Stormont Executive’s Green Growth strategy, not existing agricultural support.

Briefing journalists on Tuesday, DAERA officials were clear that restoration of peatland falls outside the scope of future agricultural policy.

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