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Thousands Of Ash Trees Could Be Felled In NPT

Councillors will be asked to approve the need for an action plan and funding to deal with a fungal disease which is spreading across the UK.

An estimated 140,000 ash trees are in the county with around 10% believed to be on local authority land.

In a report going before the street scene and engineering cabinet board arboricultural officers on Friday it is said a large number of trees on both council land and private land are currently infected. Some trees have already been felled. On local authority land everywhere from country parks, allotments, and cemeteries to the county’s two canals and schools - trees will have to undergo inspection.

Officers state in the report they are aware the car park at Afan Forest Park has a number of ash trees which are currently in decline.
The disease – called Chalara ash dieback – was first officially recorded in the UK in a plant nursery in Buckinghamshire in 2012. It has now spread across the majority of the UK.

Council officers said while a large number of trees were within areas of limited access and low risk a significant number were next to roads.They said if no action took place the process of dealing with any dangerous trees would be reactive, resulting in higher costs along with an increased risk of personal injury, property damage, and insurance claims.

In their report officers said inspections, enforcement actions, and work to remove large dead and dying trees would cost a significant amount.
They point out that based on Leicestershire County Council having recently reported the requirement for £5m over 15 years to deal with an estimated 500,000 trees the local authority would need £1.4m over the same time period.

A total of £75,000 has been flagged as a budget pressure for next year to fund surveys, the action plan, and initial urgent work. According to the report Welsh local authority representatives recently attended an event organised by Welsh Government at the National Botanic Gardens to discuss the development and implementation of ash dieback action plans.

Officers said the action plan would involve raising awareness about ash dieback, tree-felling, and landscape restoration. As part of the plan the local authority would liaise with private landowners who have trees near public highways, public footpaths, and local authority property.

Replacement tree planting could involve oak, birch, alder and sycamore. Ash is the third most common tree in the UK with an estimated 60m
outside woodlands. Ash dieback is the most significant disease to affect UK trees since the Dutch elm disease epidemic of the 1970s.

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