Press release

Government calls for peat to be phased out

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A consultation on proposals to phase out the horticultural use of peat by amateur gardeners in England by 2020 has been published today.

Important progress has been made in reducing peat use in growing media products over recent years, but there is still a long way to go.  The consultation also sets out a new long-term goal to eliminate peat use by all gardeners, growers and procurers by 2030 at the latest, by switching to more sustainable, peat-free alternatives.

Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon said:

“The horticultural industry has made real progress in reducing peat use, but I want to see peat eliminated from the amateur gardener market by 2020. We need to go further if we are to protect our natural environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This will be challenging, but more sustainable and good quality peat-free alternatives are already available, and I believe it is achievable for peat to be phased out in all markets before 2030.”

The consultation includes proposals to:

  • Phase out peat by 2015 in the Government and the wider public sector, including Local Authorities;
  • Phase out peat by 2020 in the amateur gardener market for bagged growing media (including ‘grow bags’ and multi-purpose compost) that represents the majority (69%) of peat use;
  • Phase out peat by 2030 at the very latest for professional growers of fruit, vegetables and plants;
  • Carry out a comprehensive review of the new policy and progress in 2015; and
  • Establish an industry-led and time-limited taskforce to look specifically at identifying opportunities and barriers to moving away from peat in the professional horticulture sector.

A wide range of interested parties are being consulted, including DIY retailers, garden centres, growing media manufacturers, Local Authorities and Non-Government Organisations.

The consultation responses will feed into the Natural Environment White Paper that will be published in the Spring.


1. The consultation closes on Friday 11 March 2011 and can be found at

2. The UK currently uses three million cubic metres of peat per annum for horticulture.  69 per cent of this is used by amateur gardeners and 30 per cent is used by professional growers.  As peat is effectively a non-renewable resource, the extraction of peat for horticulture is unsustainable, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and damage to rare habitats and archaeology.

3. The consultation paper proposes to differentiate between the different products (e.g. soil improvers, growing media) and sectors (e.g. amateur gardeners, professional growers, the public sector) for the first time, to reflect the markedly different costs, challenges and opportunities associated with reducing peat use in these markets.