On 13 October, HTA convened a meeting of its members to brief them and discuss the sustained HTA engagement on the Defra plans to end the sale of peat for amateur use.
Further to the submission of its consultation response in March, HTA has sustained a campaign of engagement and coordinated key groups, such as the Growing Media Taskforce, to deliver joined-up and clear messages on sector needs.
In recent weeks and months, HTA Chairman, James Barnes, has met then Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt Hon George Eustice MP, as well as other Environment Ministers and lead officials. The wider HTA team has met a number of MPs and members of the House of Lords across a breadth of political parties, and in anticipation of a Scottish Government consultation on the future of peat use, met representatives in Edinburgh and also had dialogue with the Welsh Government. Just this week, new Environment Minister, Trudy Harrison MP, has cited Defra's close work with HTA on peat in response to written parliamentary questions.
HTA and its members have been strongly represented at recent Defra-led workshops, discussing what, when, and how a ban would be introduced, including details around the need for exemptions where there are no alternatives or a longer transition time may be required. HTA has used all opportunities to raise with policy-makers the significant progress made by the industry to reduce its peat use without a legislative mechanism. Alongside engagement on the ban, HTA welcomes the new opportunities to work with the government on supporting the transition from peat use, for example, by addressing regulatory barriers to alternatives.
HTA seeks to reassure its members its latest understanding is that it is the government's intention to introduce legislation to end the trade in peat from 2024, which is aimed at bagged growing media containing peat for consumer use. Exemptions would be in place for professionally grown plants and products well beyond that date - and likely beyond the 2028 date - although their duration and details are not confirmed. HTA will sustain its constructive, proactive engagement to represent its members' views in the coming weeks as and when any proposal goes through Parliament, as well as support members with information and clarity once available.
HTA also reminds its members of its 'How-to' guides and advice on reducing peat use, and these can be found in the members' area of its website along with its technical knowledge exchange work with growers.
Horticultural Trades Association