Threat to third of Plymouth trees is 'a major concern'
A DISEASE which threatens to wipe out a third of Plymouth’s ash trees is a major cause of concern ministers have been told.
The threat posed by the spread of ash dieback was highlighted at Westminster by Labour MP for Plymouth Moor view Alison Seabeck, who tackled the Government over its handling of the outbreak.
It came as ministers confirmed there were now 155 cases of ash dieback across mainland Britain caused by the Chalara fraxinea fungus.
The disease has devastated Denmark’s ash population and is becoming widespread throughout central Europe.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
There are fears the UK’s ash trees are facing a similar fate to its elms, which were destroyed by Dutch elm disease in the 1970s.
Labour has accused the Government of “dithering” in its response to the crisis, which it warned threatened to “change our landscape forever”, and queried whether the detection and management of the disease had been “hampered” by cuts to the Forestry Commission.
Ministers were told in April that the disease had been discovered in a nursery, but a ban on ash imports was not introduced until October.
But the Government has rejected the criticism saying action had been taken as soon as it was identified, including destroying young ash trees.
Speaking during an opposition day debate on the Government handling of the disease, Ms Seabeck said: “With the potential loss of a third of Plymouth’s ash trees, there is real worry about this.
“Given that the disease was beginning to be understood some time ago, what work was started on disease-resistant seeds and young saplings, and is that work ongoing, so that when, we hope, this moves on, we can start to replant?”
Environment Minister David Heath said: “What she must realise is that we did not believe that we had Chalara in this country. Indeed, there was some suggestion that our native ash was, in part, resistant to the disease.”
This may be one of the reasons why the spread had not been discovered until earlier this year, he said.
Pressed by Ms Seabeck over work into the disease that had taken place in Europe, Mr Heath said: “We have all been struck by how little work has been done and the great need for us better to understand the disease, how it develops, and how to develop proper resistance to it.”
Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh said; “Ministers’ incompetence has helped the disease spread and will cost the taxpayer money.”
Ms Seabeck questioned why the Government had not made information available earlier.
She said: “Some 7,000 young saplings have been burned near Honiton, and the disease has turned up south west of Exeter; we are really worried in the South West.”
Ms Creagh described the disease as “an environmental, ecological and economic disaster”.
But Mr Heath told MPs the pattern of Chalara infection was “consistent” with it arriving on the wind and that it could have been present in British trees for “at least two years”.