Dirk Röse

Böcking: LROP is not the end

State­ment on new bill for Lower Saxony’s Regio­nal Plan­ning Pro­gram­me (LROP)

The bill to amend Lower Saxony’s Regio­nal Plan­ning Pro­gram­me (LROP) which was pas­sed by Lower Saxony’s Cabi­net at the begin­ning of this week ear­marks approx. 3,500 hec­ta­res of prio­ri­ty sites for peat pro­duc­tion. This will not affect exis­ting extrac­tion licences.

Klasmann-Deilmann belie­ves this is an impro­ve­ment on the ori­gi­nal plans, which con­tai­ned no pro­vi­si­ons at all for peat extrac­tion. The chan­ge is the out­co­me of effec­ti­ve coope­ra­ti­on bet­ween the sub­stra­te indus­try and the Ger­man Asso­cia­ti­on for Natu­re Con­ser­va­ti­on NABU, in which both par­ties had repeated­ly sought direct nego­tia­ti­ons with Lower Saxony’s Sta­te Government. “It is good that the sub­stra­te indus­try and NGOs were wil­ling to reach a com­pro­mi­se and have now agreed on a com­mon objec­ti­ve,” said Mana­ging Direc­tor Moritz Böcking, who repre­sen­ted Klasmann-Deilmann GmbH in the talks. “We have deli­ve­r­ed pro­of that even unli­kely poli­ti­cal bed­fel­lows can achie­ve sur­pri­sin­gly suc­cess­ful results and crea­te win-win situa­tions for the future for ever­yo­ne involved.”

Nevertheless, the LROP amend­ment shows that the end of peat pro­duc­tion in Ger­ma­ny is in sight. The addi­tio­nal prio­ri­ty are­as will do no more than slow down the decre­a­se in pro­duc­tion to a mini­mal extent. “So we have to look to the future,” con­ti­nues Böcking. And for the fore­see­ab­le future, com­mer­cial hor­ti­cul­tu­re in Ger­ma­ny and throughout the world is still depen­dent on peat-based gro­wing media. The Federal Ger­man government has mean­while also accep­ted this fact and issued a state­ment on the sub­ject at the begin­ning of the year.

The new LROP does not mean the end of the Ger­man sub­stra­te indus­try,” says Böcking. What counts now are mea­su­res to pro­mo­te the use of alter­na­ti­ve resour­ces in sub­stra­te pro­duc­tion. Raw mate­ri­als such as wood fibres and green com­post have alrea­dy been used in incre­a­singly lar­ge quan­ti­ties for years and Klasmann-Deilmann plans to rai­se the share of alter­na­ti­ve resour­ces in its sub­stra­te pro­duc­tion to 15% by the year 2020. “We have alrea­dy made good pro­gress in that respect,” says Böcking. “At the same time, howe­ver, we can obtain only limi­ted quan­ti­ties of the­se alter­na­ti­ves, as the ener­gy indus­try is also incre­a­singly using the same raw mate­ri­als that we requi­re. What we need here is poli­ti­cal sup­port to pro­tect the inte­rests of the sub­stra­te indus­try and hor­ti­cul­tu­ral sector.”

Des­pi­te this situa­ti­on, it is vital to encou­ra­ge the deve­lo­p­ment of other alter­na­ti­ves. “As most of the play­ers in our sec­tor are small or medi­um-sized enter­pri­ses, we can­not shoul­der this bur­den alo­ne. We need government sup­port pro­gram­mes that will help to ensu­re that the sub­stra­te indus­try can con­ti­nue to pro­vi­de abso­lute­ly reli­able gro­wing media in future,” says Böcking. The con­se­quence will other­wi­se be dis­ad­van­ta­ges for modern hor­ti­cul­tu­re in Ger­ma­ny, which, amongst other things, plays a key role for the food indus­try. On a visit to Klasmann-Deilmann in March, Lower Saxony’s Minis­ter for Eco­no­mic Affairs Olaf Lies com­men­ted, “It’s important that, whe­re on the one hand we place limits on an indus­try in terms of raw-mate­ri­al extrac­tion, we should on the other hand also make alter­na­ti­ve opti­ons available.”

We wel­co­me the­se posi­ti­ve signals from the government,” says Böcking. In the inte­rests of safe­guar­ding the future of the sub­stra­te indus­try and hor­ti­cul­tu­re sec­tor, Klasmann-Deilmann will con­ti­nue to seek talks with poli­ti­cal cir­cles and NGOs to iden­ti­fy prac­ti­ca­ble opti­ons and agree on bin­ding solu­ti­ons as soon as pos­si­ble. Lower Saxony’s “Peat Sub­sti­tu­te Forum”, which will be hos­ted by Klasmann-Deilmann in June, plays a cen­tral part in the­se efforts and will pro­vi­de poli­ti­ci­ans, sci­en­tists, NGOs and repre­sen­ta­ti­ves of the sub­stra­te indus­try an oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss the future of sub­stra­te pro­duc­tion and the deve­lo­p­ment of alter­na­ti­ve resources.