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Volume 172: debated on Thursday 17 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what specific guidance has been circulated to local authorities and Government Departments regarding suitable alternatives to peat, if he will list the local authorities to which his Department has given guidance on this subject; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 14 May 1990]: My Department has not circulated any specific guidance to local authorities or other Government Departments on this subject. However, advice on peat alternatives has been provided to some local authorities on a contractual basis by the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In addition the Forestry Commission's arboricultural advisory and information service, which is funded by the Department, is preparing a note on "Organic Soil Amendments" in relation to amenity tree planting. This note will report the results of recent research carried out for the Department and is likely to indicate that the money traditionally spent on bulky organic matter, inluding peat, to establish trees would often be better spent on thorough site preparation and post-planting care. This note will be available to local authorities. Finally, I refer the Member to the concluding paragraphs of the debate on peat resources which took place in another place on 9 May. Lord Reay set out the Government's position in his concluding speech on that debate.