Government bans imports of ash - UPDATED

A ban on the import of ash trees to combat the threat of ash dieback is being imposed with immediate effect, environment secretary Owen Paterson has announced.

Owen Patterson - Image Defra
Owen Patterson - Image Defra

Imports will be banned and there will also be movement restrictions so that trees from infected areas will not be able to be moved to other locations within the UK.

The legislation prohibits:

  • all imports of ash plants, trees and seeds into Great Britain except from officially designated pest-free areas (areas declared free of C.
  • fraxinea) until further notice. No such areas have been designated to date;
  • all movements of ash plants, trees and seeds within Great Britain until further notice (in the absence of officially designated pest-free areas in Great Britain);
  • movement within Great Britain of logs and firewood from sites with confirmed C. fraxinea infection which have been served with a Statutory Plant Health Notice;
  • The following activities are permitted to continue:
  • importation from European Union countries of logs, woodchips and firewood, which pose a very low risk of disease transmission, especially when they are kiln dried. In the unlikely event that this material is found to contain infection, action such as destruction will be ordered;
  • movements within Great Britain of sawn ash timber, which poses a very low risk of disease transmission; and
  • importation of sawn ash timber from certain countries under existing regulations against the forestry pest emerald ash borer, provided such material originates from a pest-free area for emerald ash borer. These regulations require the material to be accompanied by official phytosanitary (plant health) certificates declaring that the material either originated in areas known to be free of EAB, or that the wood is bark-free (which addresses the Chalara risk as well) before entering Great Britain.

The disease, ash dieback (chalara fraxinia), was recorded for the first time in the UK’s natural environment last week, at two sites in East Anglia.

Paterson said: "This is a very serious disease that demands action to stop its spread.  I have ordered both an import ban and movement restrictions on trees from infected areas.  This comes into force immediately.

"Work is already underway to tackle the disease. Plant Health Authorities have been monitoring trees in infected areas to ensure early detection and trade bodies have been encouraging their members to impose voluntary import bans.  By working together we can protect our native trees from this devastating disease."

HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said he supported the ban but is calling for compensation to be offered to growers.

"It has got to be controlled but we are frustrated that nothing was done in 2009. We estimate that there are £2.25m worth of ash trees growing in the UK. The events of the last week have wiped out that market. Who is going to compensate the growers?"

He said the government should do a better search to assess the extent of the disease, and operate a containment policy rather than more destruction notices.

Further information, including a pictorial guide to symptoms and videos about the disease, is available at

Detailed advice on the legislation is available from the Plant Health Service, Forestry Commission, Silvan House, 231 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh EH12 7AT; email:; tel. 0131 314 6414.


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