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Ash Die-back Disease

Ash Die-back Disease is being treated as a quarantine pest under national emergency measures. It is important that suspected cases of the disease are reported to the Forestry Commission or Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It is important that suspected cases of the disease are reported to the Forestry Commission or FERA/DEFRA

The disease was brought into the country on imported Ash plants from Europe. It has been identified in the open countryside throughout the UK and the disease (Chalara fraxinea) could appear anywhere, especially where young Ash trees imported from Europe have been planted.

Suspected diseased Ash trees

An attempt to correctly identify the disease is the first step by calling in a fully accredited contractor (Arboricultural Association (AA) and Accreditation Services International (ASI) or specialist).  If suspected, it should be reported to one of the following:

If you have identified an ash tree in your garden as being infected by the disease, please do not put the leaves or cuttings in your garden waste bin. The leaves and trimmings should be handled as explained below:

Contractors and felled Ash materials

Identification of the disease is important as is good sanitation. So, felling and pruning wood, leaves etc should not be transported or introduced into wood chip and mulch, instead it should be burned on site if possible and contractors' tools should be sterile cleaned afterwards and before using on other Ash trees.

Detailed updates on confirmed cases can be found on the Forestry Commission website.

Planning Applications

It is currently not considered appropriate to down-grade the British Standard 5837 category of trees on development sites due to the potential risk of infection by Chalara, but an infected one will be.

Planning Conditions

A 2012 Plant Health Order banned the movement of Ash plants, and therefore no Ash species can be approved in landscape schemes. Since any existing schemes that include Ash cannot be fully implemented due to the ban, planting proposals should be modified, and can be dealt with simply as a minor amendment by using replacement species or increasing the numbers of other trees already listed.

Tree Preservation Order (TPO) Applications

The implications of the disease are still unknown, so it is not felt necessary to fell healthy trees. Mature Ash trees appear to be more resistant and it may well be that diseased mature trees do not need to be felled. Therefore, applications for consent to fell unaffected trees remain to be judged on their own merits, and the potential for infection by Chalara will not be a significant consideration.

Trees confirmed to be infected by Chalara will again be judged on their merits against the likely outcome of infection, the value of disease control, and the theory that mature trees may provide a source of resistant stock. Felling infected trees under Statutory Plant Health Orders will be an exception.

Conservation Area Tree (CAT) Notices

As with TPO applications, CAT notifications to fell unaffected trees will be judged on the merits of each case, and the potential for infection by Chalara will not be a significant consideration. Applications for the felling of infected trees will again be judged on the merits of disease control.

Dead and Dangerous Trees Exemptions

The Council must be given five days written notice of exempt works on protected trees to remove dead trees and parts that pose an immediate risk. Felling required under a Plant Health Order is an exception, and depending upon circumstances, the grubbing out of recently planted Ash infected by Chalara may be an exception as the disease appears to be affecting young trees. Otherwise, outside of a Plant Health Order, the felling of infected trees will not be an exception by virtue of infection alone.

New Tree Preservation Orders

Until further notice, the potential risk of infection by Chalara will not be considered a significant justification for not making a TPO, although a confirmed case of Chalara is likely to be a significant factor weighing against making an Order, and a tree with a Plant Heath Order against it would not be made the subject of a TPO.

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