HTA flags up Ash Dieback disease

The HTA is trying to raise awareness of Ash Dieback (Chalara fraxinea) disease following its discovery at a number of sites in the UK over recent weeks.

The disease has no visible symptoms in the early stages and shows up in trees some years after planting. This has enabled it to spread widely across Europe to the point that mainland Europe recognises it as endemic and do not take action against it.

The HTA Tree and Hedging Group wrote to the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) in 2009 asking for action to be taken to prevent the import of Ash into the UK.

HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said: "The tree trade is international so it is inconceivable to think that this disease is not already widely spread within the UK, if not endemic.  If that is the case then findings will increase quickly now that FERA are looking for it and destruction notices will become common.  This is particularly concerning for the trade as this will lead to significant costs having to be carried by the industry."

He added: "We would like to see more evidence from Government that Ash Dieback is not already endemic in the UK before further destruction notices are issued.  If FERA had made the UK a Protected Zone for this disease back in 2009 when we flagged up our concerns then this problem now could have been avoided and the costs associated."

The HTA has written to Lord Taylor of Holbeach to raise its concerns.

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