Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has welcomed government confirmation that peat casting is permitted during the coronavirus lockdown, having written to the seek clarification for concerned constituents.
Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, told Ms Wishart:
“I recognise the importance of peat as a domestic winter fuel source in parts of Scotland, and of the need to begin to cast peat now to ensure adequate personal supplies for next winter. As long as the published guidance on social distancing is followed, this collection of an essential fuel supply should be permissible. However, it is also essential that those undertaking this activity follow precautions such as not sharing tools and cleaning them thoroughly after use.”
Ms Cunningham also confirmed that workers can be hired for this role:
“The onus lies with those looking to hire others to assist with peat casting to determine if the work can be undertaken in a way which is fully compliant with established social distancing advice, and if so to put specific procedures in place to ensure that all employees adhere to the social distancing guidance in the course of their work, including transport to work (commuting) and whilst in transit during their work.”
Commenting, Ms Wishart said:
“I am pleased that Government has recognised the importance of peat to communities like Shetland and has clarified that casting is permitted during lockdown, provided individuals following wider guidance on social distancing and hygiene. Peat is a significant winter fuel source for a number of households, so it’s important that this work can be carried out in the coming months.”