RHS Comments on the Government’s Legislative Aims at the State Opening of Parliament

Professor Alistair Griffiths, Director of Science and Collections at the Royal Horticultural Society, comments on the Government’s omission of legislation relating to the use of peat.

“We were extremely disappointed that there was no legislation relating to the banning of retail peat in horticulture in today’s announcement. This comes despite commitments from Government to ban peat use in retail bagged compost in 2024 and its use in professional horticulture in 2026, with some exemptions to 2030. The lack of legislation is a missed opportunity to provide clarity for industry and protect our peatland habitats, which have an important role in carbon storage and flood mitigation and are a home to a unique assemblage of rare and threatened wildlife.

The RHS remains committed to being 100% peat-free across all our operations, including shows, gardens and retail, by the end of 2025. However, the lack of any legislation adds uncertainty for growers where we had seen great progress in the peat-free transition, as shown in the RHS 2023 survey before the Government announcement, with 51% of the industry stating they expect to be peat free in all their operations by the end of 2026. The use of peat-free material is increasing across the sector and had accelerated with the announcement of the professional peat-ban earlier this year.

We’re calling on the Government to provide clear direction and clarity to the industry and adhere to its commitment to ban peat use in professional horticulture in 2026. Our recent survey of commercial growers and nurseries identified that 40% of businesses are waiting for Government legislation so that they too can commit to becoming peat-free.”

Notes to editors

For further information, images or interviews, the RHS Press Office at [email protected] / 0207 821 3080.

About the RHS

Since our formation in 1804, the RHS has grown into the UK’s leading gardening charity, touching the lives of millions of people. Perhaps the secret to our longevity is that we’ve never stood still. In the last decade alone we’ve taken on the largest hands-on project the RHS has ever tackled by opening the new RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford, Greater Manchester, and invested in the science that underpins all our work by building RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science.
We have committed to being net positive for nature and people by 2030. We are also committed to being truly inclusive and to reflect all the communities of the UK.
Across our five RHS gardens we welcome more than three million visitors each year to enjoy over 34,000 different cultivated plants. Events such as the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, other national shows, our schools and community work, and partnerships such as Britain in Bloom, all spread the shared joy of gardening to wide-reaching audiences.

Throughout it all we’ve held true to our charitable core – to encourage and improve the science, art and practice of horticulture –to share the love of gardening and the positive benefits it brings.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.