Rhododendron ponticum removal saps Phytophthora fund

Minutes released from the Phytophthora Programme update meeting on 11 March (HW 18 March) have shown that much of the Government's £20m budget for 2009-14 has been spent on Rhododendron ponticum removal.

But spending on clearance after the outbreak in Japanese larch in 2010 now matches that sum through the use of Forestry Commission funds.

Defra said "replanting was out of scope for funds" from the programme, but is now considering a Forestry Commission request for funds to enable restocking.

Shelley Common Nursery Rhododendron grower John Middleton attended the meeting and said: "There should be a central European scientific body funded from EU funds to give a certain discipline to our own scientists, as well as cost savings by pooling resources and avoiding duplication."

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