Suppliers of British-grown ash trees could pick up more orders for stock after the Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) found further outbreaks of ash dieback disease on plants imported from the continent.
A Lincolnshire nursery is the source of the latest findings in a Leicestershire car park and in South Yorkshire. HW understands that this import is of 30,000 ash trees from Belgium.
FERA is still investigating the original source. The agency said it is not the Dutch nursery that was supplied the infected ash first discovered at a South East nursery in February and first revealed in HW (7 June). That case saw 2,000 trees imported and sent out to 90 UK mail-order customers.
One retailer told HW: "They're looking to ban ash coming into the country because I bet there's 100,000 infected plants here now. It's rife obviously and has been here for years. I think there's going to be a big push to British growers." The retailer is now using Kent-based Oakover Nurseries to provide its ash trees.
A FERA representative said: "At this stage we are pretty certain they were not supplied by the same Dutch nursery. Investigations are still ongoing both up and down the supply chain, which I am sure you appreciate may take some time to conclude. Also, it is possible that as we follow up the information we have, there could be more findings."
He added: "Chalara fraxinea has been confirmed at a planting site in South Yorkshire, with trees planted in 2012, and at a nursery in Lincolnshire. FERA is working with the affected landowner and producer.
"Statutory action, following the precautionary principle, is being taken under emergency powers in the Plant Health Order to eradicate the disease. FERA is working closely with colleagues in the Forestry Commission to enable inspections of associated deliveries."
Forestry Commission: precautionary approach
"This is a very worrying development. Chalara fraxinea is an aggressive pathogen that has the potential to inflict considerable damage on Britain's ash trees. We have agreed with the Food & Environment Research Agency to adopt a precautionary approach, inspect ash plants in nurseries and destroy any material with this disease to prevent it from spreading into the natural environment. Because we now know that C. fraxinea is present in the nursery trade, we expect there will be more interceptions in the near future."
Dr John Morgan, plant health service head, Forestry Commission