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Volume 728: debated on Thursday 23 February 2023

We are increasing levels of peatland restoration through our nature for climate fund, in order to restore approximately 35,000 hectares of peatland by 2025. To date, we have committed £33 million to restore 20,000 hectares of peatlands, with a further bidding round in 2023.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Well-maintained peatlands are a crucial nature resource in fighting the climate crisis. The Somerset levels near Bath contain 231 square miles of peatland, storing nearly 11 million tonnes of carbon, but 80% of the UK’s peatland is so degraded that it is acting as a net source of greenhouse gas emissions, doing the opposite of what it is meant to do. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says that part of the problem is the lack of available contractors with the necessary skills and capacity to allow for rapid restoration work. What is the Secretary of State, or the Minister, doing to increase the number of contractors?

We have set out in our peatland action plan the measures that we will be taking. The hon. Lady is absolutely right to recognise the value that England’s peatlands provide: they are our largest terrestrial carbon store, and also provide homes for rare wildlife, regulate our water supply and provide a record of the past, all of which are incredibly important. In the net zero strategy, we committed to restore approximately 280,000 hectares of peatland in England by 2050.