Thank you for contacting me about our peatlands.
Peatlands are our biggest terrestrial carbon store and home to some of our rarest species. Healthy peatlands can help us to offset the effects of climate change and restored upland peatland can reduce the risk of flooding. With only 13 per cent of them in a near-natural state, I welcome the Government’s 2021 England Peat Action Plan which has set out how it intends to restore, sustainably manage, and protect our peatlands.
I am pleased that the Government has increased funding to the Nature for Climate Fund to over £750 million by 2024-25, working towards its ambition to plant at least 7,500 hectares of trees in England every year by 2025 and to restore 35,000 hectares of peatland across England, including in Sites of Special Scientific Interest. My ministerial colleagues have also legislated to phase out the most damaging practices to our peatland: managed burning has been banned when unlicensed and concerns specified vegetation on protected blanket bog habitats. This will protect some 142,000ha of England’s upland deep peat, and will reduce the risk of wildfire.
The Government has also committed to a full consultation on banning the sale of peat and peat products in the amateur sector by the end of this Parliament. I am assured that Ministers will work with industry to understand the implications of these proposals and to identify blockages, and with the private sector to develop and enact solutions, therefore making the transition to peat alternatives as seamless as possible.
In areas like the Pennines, incentives under the future agriculture policy will be developed to achieve the re-wetting of land, coupled with maintenance payments to preserve it for the future. Furthermore, the Lowland Agricultural Peat Task Force is coordinating work and developing new solutions to manage peatlands that are important for food and farming. By summer 2022, Ministers will have recommendations for a more sustainable future and the possibility of new schemes that reward farmers and land managers for producing public goods.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking