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Ash Dieback works to take place on Surrey’s countryside estate 

Surrey County Council will begin a programme of tree felling across the county council’s countryside estate this week, as part of a scheme to remove diseased Ash Trees blighted by Ash dieback.  

Ash dieback is caused by a non-native fungus called Hymenoscyphus Fraxineus that weakens a tree’s structure due to leaves and branches dying higher up the tree. It is untreatable, spreads rapidly and therefore needs to be managed correctly to protect public safety. 

As England’s most wooded county, Surrey has a lot of ash trees, which are sadly affected by this disease. Infected trees are unpredictable, often becoming dangerous long before they die and so in the interest of public safety, the county council will carry out selective felling. 

Following extensive arboricultural and ecological surveys, Surrey County Council’s countryside team will work with specialist contractors to remove dying and unstable trees that pose a high risk to public safety at the following sites: 

  • Worplesdon Commons (near Guildford) from 17 January 
  • Hill Park (near Oxted)
  • Sheepleas (near East and West Horsley).

Ash trees will be retained with their disease progression monitored where safe to do so.  

An ecologist is working with contractors throughout the process to minimise any impact on wildlife, including having a presence on site at the beginning of each phase of works. Works are being prioritised to take place outside of bird nesting season to minimise environmental impact.

Once felling takes place a process of natural regeneration occurs, with existing trees releasing fertile seeds that germinate successfully to produce new saplings and over time regenerate woodland. 

Marisa Heath, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for the Environment said:

 “Surrey County Council owns more than 6,500 acres of countryside available for public access and enjoyment. Ash Dieback has had a devastating effect on Ash trees not only across Surrey but nationally. It is vital that we remove any trees that could cause a threat to public safety. Over the coming weeks a series of felling works will take place across our countryside estate, and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. 

“We understand the important role that trees play in helping us reduce the impacts of climate change, and we only remove trees when there are no other options. We have more plans during this tree planting season, which is already underway, to continue to plant trees across the county.” 

As part of Surrey’s ambition to be a carbon neutral county by 2050, Surrey County Council has a target to facilitate the planting of 1.2 million new trees (one for every resident) by 2030. Tree planting season is underway and more details on how to get involved can be found online

Working innovatively and in partnership with Surrey Outdoor Learning and Development (SOLD), suitable timber from the felling will also be cut into stumps, for schools to collect and use as stools. Other uses of the felled ash wood from the sites includes being used for wood fuel, either as firewood or chipped and left on site in small quantities to enhance biodiversity.

Further details on Ash Dieback works are available on our Ash Dieback web page including a short information video and onsite information will be available at each site throughout the works.  

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