Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 3rd July 2019.

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Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Chair, Conservative Party 1922 Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make it his Department's policy to protect remaining areas of peat moss in the UK from development.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

Around 75% of the area which still supports blanket bog vegetation is already protected from development via a range of statutory conservation designations. Of the remaining area of lowland raised bog which still supports semi-natural vegetation, around 85% is protected.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) protects irreplaceable habitat from development within its remit, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons to allow it. Whether individual peat moss sites are irreplaceable is a matter of judgement for local authorities to determine when considering applications. Sites are irreplaceable when it is technically very difficult (or would take a very significant time) to restore, recreate or replace once destroyed, taking into account the age, uniqueness, species diversity or rarity.

The NPPF also protected peatlands from development for minerals extraction by ending the granting of new licences for peat extraction.

The government is preparing a peatland strategy which will outline our approach.

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