The sale of peat and peat-containing products to amateur gardeners in England will be banned in 2024, the government has announced today (Saturday, August 27).

The dates and exemptions for a ban on products produced by the professional sector, including plants, will be discussed with the professional sector in September.

The government has also pledged to continue to work closely with the professional horticulture sector on speeding up its transition to peat-free alternatives ahead of a ban for the professional horticulture sector, recognising that the professional horticulture sector faces additional technical barriers that will take longer to overcome.

This measure follows an extensive consultation in England and Wales, which received more than 5,000 responses with over 95% in favour of government taking action to ban retail peat sales.

It also contributes to the target of restoring 35,000ha of peatlands by 2025.

The government is also launching a new £5 million fund to promote the use of peatlands for sustainable farming. It will support the uptake of paludiculture – the practice of farming on rewetted peatland – which will help, further safeguard food security, produce alternatives to horticultural peat and reduce environmental impacts.

“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,” Environment Minister Richard Benyon said.

“The actions announced today mark a new chapter in the story of our iconic peatlands – safeguarding their long-term health and vitality as part of our commitments to achieve Net Zero and deliver our 25 Year Environment Plan.”

“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,” added chair of Natural England Tony Juniper.

Natural England has also today awarded nearly £11 million to six projects to support restoration works on over 7,000ha of peatland through round two of the Nature for Climate Fund Peatland Restoration Grant.

“We are working with Defra [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] and partners on the ground to restore thousands of hectares of peatland habitats, and today have awarded over £11 million to restore lowland sites in the southwest of England, and upland sites in the north of England,” added Juniper.

“These projects will have multiple benefits, holding carbon, helping some of our scarcest wildlife to recover, reduce flood risk and render landscapes more resilient to climate change impacts such as drought and fire.”