The UK government has been called on to "play an active part" in the implementation of a new Peatland Strategy for Northern Ireland.

In the House of Lords today (Tuesday, January18), Ulster Unionist peer Lord Rogan asked Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith if the UK department of agriculture could play a part.

“Is there scope for Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to play an active part in the formulation of this strategy to ensure that it delivers the very best results for Northern Ireland and its ecosystems?” he asked.[/colored_box]

“Whilst peatlands cover 11% of England’s land area, 24.6% of Northern Ireland is covered by peat," he said.

Replying, Lord Goldsmith told peers that the England Peat Action Plan, which sets out the UK Government’s long-term vision for the management, protection and restoration of peatlands, was clearly limited geographically.

However, he acknowledged peat as a priority.

“Peatlands are iconic features of our landscape. They are the UK’s stores – by far – of carbon," he said.

“They provide hugely important ecosystems services and supply over a quarter of the UK’s drinking water as a whole, as well as decreasing flood risk and providing food and shelter for rare and sometimes endangered wildlife.

“That is why peat recovery and protection is a priority.”