Thank you for contacting me about peat burning.
The impact of rotational burning of vegetation on blanket bog continues to be hotly debated by academics, scientists, land managers and everybody involved on all sides. I know, however, that healthy peatlands have an important role to play in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and helping the UK reach its net zero target, so I am pleased that £640 million has been committed through the Nature for Climate Fund to restore 35,000 hectares of England’s peatland by 2025.
My Ministerial colleagues have always been clear on the need to phase out rotational burning of protected blanket bog to conserve these vulnerable habitats. Ministers have decided to bring forward legislation that will limit and regulate the burning of peatland, protecting around 62 per cent of the blanket bog habitat. This legislation will prevent the burning of any specified areas of peat on a Site of Special Scientific Interest that is also a Special Area of Conservation or a Special Protection Area. There will be, however, some exceptions to the ban such as wildfire prevention. I have been assured that Ministers will work with land owners to develop local plans and the legislation will be considered as soon as parliamentary time allows.
I agree that restoring and better managing our peatlands is absolutely essential for nature recovery and tackling climate change. This will help the UK achieve its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. I know that the Committee on Climate Change has highlighted the particular need to restore blanket bogs. For that reason, Ministers are committed to publishing an English peat strategy that sets out the direction for restoration, protection and sustainable management.
Richard Fuller MP