Peat rights revoked to protect carbon stores

Ancient rights, which allow people to extract peat for fuel, have been revoked by Tynwald – in a bid to protect important carbon stores and reduce emissions. 

Globally, peatlands account for one third of the world’s land based carbon, and in 2019 research carried out by the Isle of Man Government and the Manx Wildlife Trust estimated that Manx peat soils could contain up to 20 million tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). 

Last week, Tynwald supported a motion tabled by Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture to revoke the Public Turbary Byelaws from the Forestry Act 1984. It means people will no longer be able to extract peat from the Island’s only public turbary, on Beinn-Y-Phott, from 1 August 2020. 

The Minister, said: ‘It’s incredibly important we protect this precious resource as it sequesters and stores atmospheric carbon – which when cut, dried and burnt is released back into the atmosphere.  

‘Noting the damage caused to our uplands and climate by the extraction and burning of turf, the Isle of Man Government no longer considers it necessary or appropriate to have a public turbary in the Isle of Man.’ 

Historically peat was the main fuel source for many Manx families but quickly fell out of favour when coal, imported from the UK, became widely available. The Climate Change Bill, for which a public consultation was launched last week, outlines further proposals to protect the Island’s peatlands.