The Government has opposed a bill to create a special category of peat extraction for horticultural purposes - even though it was proposed by two government Senators.

Minister of State Malcolm Noonan told the Seanad that "initial legal advice" suggested there were "serious legal issues" with the bill.

Instead, he said, a report would be going to Cabinet as early next week along with a memo that points to possible ways forward to support the domestic horticultural sector.

Ireland's horticultural sector has been in difficulty ever since Bórd na Móna ended harvesting peat from its bogs last year, following a High Court decision which demanded adherence to licensing, planning and environmental regulations.

Leader of the House and Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty, along with the Fianna Fáil Senator from Cavan-Monaghan Robbie Gallagher jointly introduced the Horticultural (Temporary Measures) Bill with the aim of allowing peat to be harvested, on a temporary basis and for a specified period for domestic horticulture.

They received some cross-party support for the plan on the basis that it would end the practice of importing peat from countries like Latvia.

However, Minister Noonan told the Seanad that while he welcomed the debate, he had to point out that the Government would be opposing the Bill.

He said this was on foot of "initial legal advice" from the Attorney General's office which indicated that there were "serious legal issues... in terms of EU environmental law."

Minister Noonan told Senators that the as-yet unpublished horticultural peat working group report will be going to Cabinet, along with a memo that points to possible ways forward to support the domestic horticultural sector- and that could all happen as soon as next week.