Caring for our environment, General

Ash disease call for vigilance

The spread of ash disease across parts of the UK has led to a call for Surrey residents to be vigilant.

The county council has been working with national and regional organisations, including the Forestry Commission, Surrey Wildlife Trust and local councils, to ensure Surrey is prepared for an outbreak of the disease, also known as Chalara fraxinea and ash dieback.

Residents, including landowners, have been asked to play their part by promptly reporting potentially infected trees to plant.health@forestry.gsi.gov.uk. Outbreaks of the disease have been identified in the neighbouring counties of Sussex and Kent.

John Furey, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, said: “Despite the Government’s best efforts to limit the impact of ash disease, the reality is it is likely to spread further. We have been preparing for some time to try and contain any potential outbreak so as to limit the spread as much as possible.

“Unfortunately ash disease is incredibly difficult to control because the microscopic fungal spores that spread it can be carried on the wind. Perhaps our best defence is vigilance. By reporting sightings of infected trees, residents and landowners can help the authorities act quickly against the disease and limit the damage it causes.”

Residents can find out how to spot ash disease at www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara. They can also watch the video below, produced by the Forestry Commission, about what the symptoms look like.

There is no known treatment for ash disease, so Government scientists have been working with their counterparts in other countries to learn from existing research. Restrictions on the importation of ash trees into Great Britain were imposed by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson last month.

A small number of saplings infected with ash disease were found in a nursery at Chobham, Surrey in July. They were immediately disposed of and no further infection has been reported in the county.

The Forestry Commission has set up a Chalara helpline on 08459 33 55 77, which is open from 8am to 6pm every day.

ENDS

Media requiring more information can contact Surrey County Council senior media relations officer James Oxley at james.oxley@surreycc.gov.uk.

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