ASDA fails environment – where are the peat free alternatives?

This government is investing a lot of taxpayer money to restore peatlands in this country, while allowing supermarkets and garden centres to make a big profit out of the destruction of peatlands. People within government clearly want to do the right thing, but not if it gets in the way of corporate greed.

ASDA managed to annoy me today when it emerged that they were selling peat based compost at the front of their store, while offering no peat free alternatives. As with a lot of other initiatives relying on behaviour change, it won’t work if government doesn’t make it easy for consumers to make that switch.

Asda did tell me later that they do sell peat free, but clearly not in every store and we need legislation to fix this.

Here is the latest answer to my written question about support for peatlands which talks about funding support for landowners via the Nature for Climate Fund and funded research into lowland peat. All good ways to spend money, but it would be even better if we stopped supermarket sales and just left peat in the ground.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL7332):

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 7 March (HL6269), what steps they will take to ensure that a larger amount of peatlands is restored before 2040 in order (1) to avoid incurring significant opportunity costs, and (2) to prevent the further degradation of unrestored peatlands. (HL7332)

Tabled on: 24 March 2022

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park:

England’s peatlands are our largest terrestrial carbon store. They provide a home for rare wildlife, regulate our water supply and provide a record of the past. However, we know we need to do more to restore our peatlands to their natural state so that they can provide these vital ecosystem services.

In the Net Zero Strategy, we committed to aim to restore approximately 280,000 hectares of peatland in England by 2050. The Nature for Climate Fund aims to provide funding for the restoration of at least 35,000 hectares of peatland by 2025, representing a tripling of historic average annual restoration levels. To ensure that a larger amount of peatlands is restored, the scheme is offering two types of grants: Discovery grants focused on building a restoration pipeline by enabling projects to unlock barriers to peat restoration; and Restoration grants, focused on capital works on the ground, for projects for which the preparatory work has mostly been completed. A second round of both the Discovery and Restoration grants are to be launched in spring 2022.

We have set out further plans for enabling and facilitating peatland restoration in the England Peat Action Plan, published in May 2021. We are investing in research on lowland peat to ensure we have the evidence needed to help inform necessary land use management. An Implementation Plan, being developed by Natural England, will set out how the England Peat Action Plan will be delivered, including a trajectory of restoration over the next 20 years.

We are also exploring future funding options, including mobilising private investment, and through the development of our new environmental land management schemes. We will continue to keep our policies under review to ensure that we restore and prevent further degradation of peatlands as much as possible.