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Calderdale Council has stopped using peat

Monday 8 July 2024

Calderdale Council has stopped using peat products in its gardening work, to protect fragile peatland habitats and contribute to net zero carbon targets.

During national Net Zero Week (6-12 July), the Council is highlighting the important work across the borough to reduce carbon emissions. 

Peatlands are major carbon stores and support vulnerable wildlife. When peat is dug up to provide compost for gardening, the stored carbon is released into the environment, contributing to climate change.

The Council committed to ending the use of peat-based products as part of its climate action priority. This goal has now been achieved and all the Council's planting / growing is now peat-free.

Whilst most peat used in horticulture is from peat bogs in Ireland and Scandinavia, the Council and partner organisations are working to protect peatlands in Calderdale. This focuses on the borough's moorlands, which are home to many wildlife habitats and contain plants that thrive in naturally waterlogged areas. As these plants decompose, they create a thick layer of peat.

Peatlands in good condition can help prevent flooding as they slow the flow of water from the hillsides, reducing the chance and impact of floods in the valleys below.

Growing sphagnum moss in Calderdale

Work to restore local peatlands includes the Council's leading role in the ground-breaking Calderdale Sphagnum Project, funded by the National Lottery, which involves growing this crucial moss for peatland restoration projects across the South Pennines.

The moss carpets the ground and bogs on moorlands to eventually reform peatlands. By storing up to 20 times its own weight in water, sphagnum moss also helps reduce flood risk, offering essential protection to communities.

Protecting peatlands is part of the Calderdale Climate Action Plan, which has been developed in partnership with people and organisations across Calderdale and focuses on the steps needed between 2023 and 2026 to achieve Calderdale's target of net zero carbon emissions by 2038.

Calderdale Council's Cabinet Member for Climate Action and Housing, Cllr Scott Patient, said, "Using peat-free alternatives when buying plants or compost for our gardens is a simple but important switch we can all make to cut carbon whilst protecting the environment and our peatlands. There are lots of sustainable alternatives available.

"We always want to lead by example and have reached our goal to end the use of products containing peat in all our gardening activities. The Council grows and cares for thousands of plants across Calderdale each year, so by carefully choosing the compost we use, we can make a big impact on the environment.

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