The Bishop of St Albans asked for assurances to the Lea Valley Growers Association in his diocese that support for their planning would be available going forward, during a debate on the upcoming ban on the sale of horticultural peat on 9th May 2023:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Lea Valley in my diocese is an area sometimes known as Britain’s salad bowl. The Lea Valley Growers Association already faces huge problems, mainly because of the increase in energy costs at the moment, and many of these growers are going out of business. Its concern is that some crops are grown in very specialist ways, and some of the alternatives are not working very well. The association wants real guarantees and help to make sure that, where there are not good alternatives, growers have some security for their planning at a time when many of them are not planting anymore. Can the Minister give those assurances?
Lord Benyon (Con, DEFRA): The right reverend Prelate accurately sums up the difficulty for some growers. We have learned, through detailed engagement with the industry, that the alternatives have not been easy to produce but, as the noble Baroness says, great progress has been made in finding new media. Large organisations now declare themselves peat free, and we want to ensure that the specialist areas can continue to move towards our clear timeline of 2026, with certain exemptions that will allow the propagation of plants that are very much needed and the protection of businesses, such as he mentions.
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