The Forestry Commission and the Food & Environment Research Agency (Fera) are now inviting comments and suggestions on the assessment, and on options for a control strategy. If an eradication strategy is adopted, the risk assessment will be used as evidence to support a case for national legislation to strengthen the UK’s protection from accidental introductions of Chalara fraxinea (C. fraxinea), the pathogen which causes the disease.
Forestry Commission plant health service head Dr John Morgan said: "It is important that everyone involved in the forestry, nursery, arboricultural and related sectors understands what we are doing to assess the threat which C. fraxinea poses, and to understand the possibilities for action to prevent it getting established here.
"I strongly encourage people to give us their responses to the risk assessment, and I can assure them that all responses received will be considered in any policy decisions which are taken.
"Ash is our third most common native broadleaf tree. It contributes a great deal to our biodiversity and landscape beauty, it is widely planted, and we must do all we can to protect it from this very destructive pathogen."
The rapid assessment is available to download from the plant pests and diseases consultation pages of the Fera website (www.fera.defra.gov.uk/plants/consultations/index.cfm). The deadline for submission of comments is 26 October, 2012.
Further information about C. fraxinea is available on the Forestry Commission website at www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara.