The Department for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said that it is “likely” that an enforcement body will be appointed to oversee enforcement of the ban on horticultural peat sales.

As the restrictions on peat sales would apply equally to imports, it said the enforcement body would need to collaborate with customs and local authority trading standards to ensure complete compliance.

The ban, which was announced by the government in August of last year, will see all sales of peat to amateur gardeners in England banned by 2024.

The aim of the ban is to restore 35,000ha of peatlands by 2025 and help achieve the nation’s net zero targets.

Last year, the government revealed that only 13% of England’s peatlands are in a near-natural state and linked this to drainage for agricultural use, overgrazing and burning.

At the time, Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “This government understands the importance of keeping peat healthy and in the ground, here and around the world – to lock up carbon, strengthen drought resilience and serve as a powerful nature-based solution to climate change.”

Chair of Natural England, Tony Juniper said: “Peatlands are precious ecosystems that harbor beautiful and fascinating wildlife, shape the character of iconic landscapes, purify water and help to reduce flood risk.

“They are also our largest natural carbon stores, locking away over 580 million tonnes.

“This ban on the sale of peat-based compost and work to phase out use in other areas is an essential step toward protecting these valuable natural assets and allowing for the recovery of degraded areas.”