Local outcry as businesses forced to look overseas for compost supply

Industrial peat harvesting in a section of the Bog of Allen in County Offaly. Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Sarah777.

Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill says it makes “no environmental or economic sense” to import peat from elsewhere in Europe, after Irish peat production ceased last month.

Many companies are now having to look overseas for horticultural and compost peat, and Fianna Fáil deputy Cahill says the situation makes “no sense at all”.

Bord na Móna’s peat harvesting operations ended last month as part of national efforts to tackle climate change and accelerate bog rehabilitation.

Deputy Cahill says that just under two percent of bog land is needed to meet demand, and he’s lobbying for private bog owners to be allowed to meet demand:

“This makes no sense. Common sense has to prevail. We have to make sure these industries stay cost competitive. We’re talking about one-and-three-quarters percent of bog land that is needed.

“This isn’t a regressive decision. Nobody has to eat humble pie on this. We’re still recognising the important part bogs have to play in the challenge against climate change. But we have to be sensible in the way we go about that.”

Abbey Nurseries in Thurles is one of the businesses affected by the peat shortage. William Smith says they’ve had to look at importing peat from Scotland or the Balkans to meet their demand:

“We’ve come through the Celtic crash, we’ve come through storms, frost, Covid, everything. And I never envisaged this being a problem. I was talking to colleagues in the business, and 70-80 acres of peatland will keep our industry going for the 20 years.”