Ash Dieback

The Government announced its Interim Chalara Control Plan on 6 December 2012.

It sets out the Government’s objectives for tackling the disease and outlines what further action we will take over the next few months. The Government will focus its efforts on:

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  • Reducing the rate of spread;
  • Developing resistance to the disease in the native UK ash tree population;
  • Encouraging citizen, landowner and industry engagement in surveillance, monitoring and action in tackling the problem; and
  • Building resilience in the UK woodland and associated industries.

The Government has already introduced a number of control measures to reduce the speed of spread, which are in line with these objectives. A ban on import of ash trees and movement of trees around the country will remain in place.  Landowners and conservation organisations will continue to work with Government agencies to check sites across the UK for signs of infected trees.

Ash Dieback is a new disease to Britain that has recently hit the news being found both in recently planted woodlands and old established trees. The disease is caused by a fungus, Chalara fraxinea, and has been known across Europe for a number of years where it has caused widespread tree losses.

The situation is developing rapidly with the Forestry Commission undertaking widespread surveys to ascertain the extent of the current outbreak. This will be followed by advice to Government and tree owners on how best to manage the disease. Cornwall Council will be taking stock of the situation and considering how it can best respond to the situation.

Ash Dieback has not yet been confirmed in Cornwall in the wild although it has been identified on recently planted ash in a very small number of sites. It was hoped that our westerly location will mean that the disease will take a long time to reach us giving us time to prepare. However a recent finding on ash in the wild in Devon which is thought to have been introduced as long ago as 2000 from imported plants means that it is likely to arrive here in the next few years. Members of the public are asked to remain vigilant and take precautions when visiting sites containing ash trees.

For the most up to date information on recognition, control measures and precautions please visit the Forestry Commission website.

Ash is a common tree across Cornwall in woodlands, copses, hedgerows, towns and villages. At the last census of trees and woodlands* ash was estimated to represent 3.4% of our broadleaf woodland (however it would also be a major component of the 69.5% classified as 'mixed broadleaves') and 13.5 % of our non-woodland trees (Oak was 8.3%!). There were estimated to be over 160,000 ash trees outside of woodlands.

*National Inventory of Woodland and Trees - Cornwall, March 1997

Following a number of enquiries regarding the impact of Ash Dieback on our approach to tree protection and other planning issues, Cornwall council has issued this Ash Dieback and Planning Advice Note.