Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan has said there is widespread shock and dismay within the horticultural peat sector following the decision by Government to ignore the recommendations contained within its Working Group Report on Horticultural Peat.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after one of the sectors largest representative organisations, Growing Media Ireland, characterised the Government response as an economic ‘catastrophe’ and a ‘slap in the face’ for all those groups who participated in the Working Group.
Responding on behalf of the Government, Green Party Minister of State, Malcolm Noonan, who initiated the Working Group, said that while the Report recommendations provided “a useful analysis,” he was putting forward a series of ’10 actions’ in preference to the Report:
“I, like many within the horticultural peat sector, am absolutely stunned by the callous nature of the Government response to the Working Group Report,” Deputy Nolan stated.
“Government seems to have gone out of its way to ensure that the entire consultation and input process was made utterly redundant. It has become an exercise in futility.”
She said that businesses face closure and catastrophe if they could not access horticultural peat to grow produce. The government rushed early closure of peat harvesting last year despite widespread concern from workers at energy plants and horticultural producers.
“It is now abundantly clear that Government had no interest in hearing what the sector had to say which effectively brings us right back to the starting point.”
“As the sector has pointed out, Government has chosen to ignore the recommendation of its own Working Group Report with respect to the need to gradually phase out the use of peat in the horticulture sector with a target date of 2030 and a maximum target date of 2035 for a complete cessation.”
“In that sense there are direct parallels here with the Governments implementation of a escalated timeframe for the ‘Just Transition’ process in my own constituency.”
“I am calling on Minister Noonan to urgently revise the Government’s response to the Report and I am specifically asking him to accept those recommendations which will avoid the calamitous outcomes that will inevitably overtake and collapse the sector in their absence,” concluded Deputy Nolan.