The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that certain peat-containing products will remain on shelves until 2030, despite a ban on some peat products being introduced in 2027.
This means that professional growers will still be permitted to use peat for the next seven years.
Ailis Watt, Peat Policy Officer at The Wildlife Trusts, expressed disappointment at the decision.
She argued that the destruction of peatlands for gardening purposes should have been prohibited long ago, as peatlands are crucial for nature and the climate.
Peatlands store vast amounts of carbon and support a range of wildlife.
The Wildlife Trusts is calling for an immediate ban on the extraction and commercial trade of peat, a ban on all horticultural uses of peat by 2024 at the latest and the restoration of all bogs damaged by peat extraction by 2030.
Watt argued that the decision to allow the sale of peat-containing products until 2030 contradicts the government’s commitment to deliver an ambitious environmental programme.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We have repeatedly stated that if the voluntary targets to phase out the horticultural use of peat, set in 2011, were not successful then we would need to legislate. Our peatlands are our largest carbon store as well as a uniquely valuable habitat.
“Our approach has sought to achieve our commitments to restore our peatlands while acknowledging the challenges faced by the horticulture sector in transitioning over the last ten years.
“We believe that a ban in the amateur sector for 2024, which accounts for 70% of use, is still the right approach. Furthermore, we feel that a phased approach for the professional sector with some exemptions from 2026 and a full ban from 2030, is achievable given the number of peat alternatives available and the period of time permitted for the sector to adjust.”