Dozens more planted oaks destroyed due to OPM infestation

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has said five newly planted oaks found to be infested with oak processionary moth (OPM) have been destroyed, while a further 50 are being removed as a precaution.

Image: Elliott Brown (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Image: Elliott Brown (CC BY-SA 2.0)

It said the trees had been planted by a contractor in the West Midlands borough's Elmdon Park and Rowood Drive.

Specialists wearing protective clothing, supervised by council staff from Solihull Council, removed the infested trees and burned them off-site earlier this week, following advice from the Forestry Commission.

The Commission also stipulated that 50 more oak trees planted at the same time should be felled and chipped on-site.

The council said the removed trees will be replaced in the next planting season, with the contractor meeting the cost.

Strengthened measures on the import of most species of oak into England are to be introduced to protect native trees from the threat of the tree pest Oak Processionary Moth (OPM).

The bolstered measures will only permit imports of certain oak trees, including:

  • Those from OPM-free countries
  • Those from designated pest free areas including Protected Zones (PZ) - an area of the European Union declared free of OPM
  • Those that have been grown under complete physical protection for their lifetime.

This Statutory Instrument (SI) - which is due to be introduced in Parliament shortly- builds on measures introduced in August 2018 and applies to all oak trees, except cork oak, over a certain size. This is because these trees represent the greatest likelihood of introducing OPM into the UK PZ, as they are more susceptible to pest populations and more difficult to inspect.

The restrictions will cover both imports from overseas and the movement of trees from areas of the country where OPM is already present - in London and surrounding counties. 

Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner, who flagged up that he was considering new restrictions in an interview with Hortculture Week on 1 July, said: "Biosecurity is absolutely key to everything we do and we must to do more to stop pests and diseases crossing continents and borders. That is why as a country we have more protected zones than anywhere else in the EU.

"It is essential that we further strengthen our import controls on oak trees. These new measures will ensure robust protections for our oak trees from pests such as the Oak Processionary Moth."

There have been multiples findings of OPM outside London and Surrey in recent weeks on trees imported from Holland, including in Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Cardiff.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +


The Horticulture Week Business Awards is now open for entries

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

HW Top UK Arboriculture Businesses

See our exclusive RANKING of arboriculture businesses by annual turnover. 


Build your business with the latest public sector tenders covering landscape, arboriculture, grounds care, production and kit supplies. To receive the latest tenders weekly to your inbox sign up for our Tenders Tracker bulletin here.


Find out more about the outstanding parks, gardens and arboricultural projects and teams that became our Custodian Award 2019 winners.

Jeremy Barrell On...

Jeremy Barrell

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

Products & Kit Resources