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Greens: New Bill giving false hope to horticultural growers all around the country

Speaking at Order of Business today Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly raised concern about the Horticultural Peat (Temporary Measures) Bill 2021 that was added to the Seanad Order Paper yesterday.

O’Reilly said “I am here, today to put on the record the Greens position in relation to a Bill that was put on the order paper yesterday and that’s Peat Extraction.  Let’s be really clear about it, this Bill is not consistent with European law.  It is going to face the exact same challenges that were faced by legislation in 2019.  And quite frankly it is giving false hope to growers all around this country that it will resolve issues.  It will not resolve issues. And in fact ten times the amount of peat is being exported from this country as is being imported, they are the facts, that’s the CSO figures”. 

 She went on to say “between the start of this year and September half a million tonnes actually were exported of peat.  So how can we actually justify the fact that we’re having this narrative out there that we need importation of peat?  There is illegal extraction going on  in plain sight, all over this country, and to be quite frank Minister Dara O’Brien and Minister Peter Burke are turning a blind eye to it.  They have to act on this illegal extraction”. 

 She continued “why is this an issue for horticultural growers?  It’s an issue for them because actually there is permitted extraction allowed on a small scale, and that’s not happening because it’s big business to do it on a large scale and to export it.  So if that was tackled, actually, we could do it on a small scale.  We could import the small amount that is required, in a transition phase, and actually the horticultural growers could get the peat that they require.  That’s the issue that needs to be faced”. 

 O’Reilly concluded “and I actually think that the lack of engagement, on this issue, with the Departments prior to putting down that Bill is an issue, because this is known.  This half a million tonnes is actually known.  So let’s address that.  The Greens will not support a Bill that allows widespread extraction of peat without environmental impact assessments which is what this Bill will do”.