Defra defends itself against criticism of ash dieback "chaos"

Defra has issued a 'myth-buster' statement after The Times alleged that the government's response to chalara was "hindered by chaos" and that there was a shortage of tree health experts in senior positions.

The disease hit the UK last year and was exclusively revealed in Horticulture Week in June.

Defra stated: "The Truth: Tree and plant health is an absolute priority in Defra and our response to tree diseases has been put on the same footing as our response to animal diseases.  When chalara was identified in our trees and woodland the secretary of state Owen Paterson appointed a senior civil servant with extensive experience to ensure a swift and effective response. The team brought in people from across disciplines and organisations, including the Chief Plant Health Officer and other plant health experts from the Forestry Commission and Fera.

"The resulting action included conducting an urgent survey of ash trees across the whole of the UK that was unprecedented in our history, and organising a summit of experts with an interest in tree health to help develop the Chalara Control Plan. 

"The scale of our response was reflected in the COBRA meetings chaired by the Secretary of State.  It is also evident in the Plant Health Task Force convened by Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser and chaired by Professor Chris Gilligan, which will make radical recommendations on how we should handle plant diseases.

"These are not characteristics of a chaotic response, but of a Government that acted quickly to get a grip of the unprecedented threat to our woodlands.

"Finally Pam Warhurst was not removed, as the Times suggests.  Her term as Chair of the Forestry Commission came to an end and Owen Paterson has paid tribute to her robust and resolute leadership over the last three years."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Chainsaws - Improving performance

Chainsaws - Improving performance

Battery chainsaws offer many advantages while innovative technology shelps the latest petrol models meet emissions standards, writes Sally Drury.

Chainsaws tested and reviewed: battery v petrol

Chainsaws tested and reviewed: battery v petrol

How do the latest battery models shape up against new petrol chainsaws when tested at Bridgwater College? Sally Drury reports.

Business planning: The labour challenge

Business planning: The labour challenge

With staffing becoming increasingly problematic, Neville Stein looks at the alternatives to finding good recruits.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Custodian Awards

Jeremy Barrell On...

Jeremy Barrell

Tree consultant Jeremy Barrell reflects on the big issues in arboriculture.

Products & Kit Resources