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Bord na Móna confirms it has ended peat harvesting for good


Bord na Móna plant

Bord na Móna plant

Bord na Móna plant

BORD na Móna’s iconic peat briquette is to disappear from fuel stores and fireplaces as the company announces it has stopped peat harvesting for good.

The decision also means an end to the cutting of peat for use in compost for gardening and horticulture.

Retailers are expected to be able to source briquettes from existing stocks of peat until 2024 but reserves of peat moss compost are expected to run out this summer.

The move comes as pressure grows on companies and countries to end fossil fuel use and cut carbon emissions as the climate crisis intensifies.

Bord na Móna informed staff and unions of the decision on tonight.

It had already reduced peat harvesting in 2019 and suspended it last summer as it awaited the outcome of a protracted legal challenge by environmental campaigners, but it had numerous planning and consent applications ready for submission once the legal situation was clarified.

Chief executive Tom Donnellan said those applications would not now be pursued as the company was concentrating on moving from peat to renewables as part of its “brown to green strategy”.

“Today marks the formal end to the company’s association with peat harvesting, as we move on to tackle the critical challenges concerning climate change, energy supply, biodiversity and the circular economy,” he said.

“The Brown to Green strategy has involved the transformation of Bord na Móna from a traditional peat business into a climate solutions company.

“The progress made over the past two years means we are now fully focused on renewable energy generation, recycling and the development of other low carbon enterprises.”

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No workers are immediately affected as around 350 employees who were working in peat harvesting had already been transferred to peatland rehabilitation projects under a major new scheme announced last November.

Just Transition commissioner, Kieran Mulvey, said, however, there could be knock-on effects for jobs in the horticulture industry.

The loss of domestically produced compost will push many growers to import from abroad at higher cost financially and, they argue, with greater cost to the environment.

Mr Mulvey was appointed by the government to support communities in peat producing areas through the wind-down of the industry, and oversee state funding for training and enterprise start-ups.

“This formal announcement will have an impact on the Midlands but I’m also worried that this could be a nail in the coffin of our own national horticultural supply industry,” he said.

“We will end up importing peat from other EU countries and that in itself is problematic because it would need to come from the Baltic region through the UK and on into Ireland so we're solving one problem but accentuating the creation of another problem.

“There needs to be some reconciliation between our climate change polity and peat rehabilitation ambitions and the supporting of our horticultural industry.”

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