Ash disease found

NORTH east MSP Nanette Milne has called for action to tackle ash dieback disease, which has been found in trees near Montrose.

The discovery was made last week after a major Scotland-wide survey for Chalara was conducted by the Forestry Commission Scotland. Of the 2,730 sites inspected by workers five days, five per cent showed potential symptoms and will be revisited for further investigation.

The disease is threatening to devastate Britain’s 80 million ash population and has already infected up to 90 per cent of ash trees in some areas of Denmark. In February the Chalra was found in a nursery in Buckinghamshire, England and a UK-wide investigation is under way to trace the original source of the diseased trees.

The results have been “cautiously welcomed” by Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse who said there was “no room for complacency”.

Dr Milne said Scottish Conservatives have tabled a number of Parliamentary questions about when ministers first took action on the threat of ash dieback disease to Scottish forests as well as calling on them to outline what discussions Forestry Commission Scotland has had with partner organisations across the UK. They have also asked what communications the Scottish Government have sent to Scottish Farmers and those involved in the forestry industry in Scotland regarding the Chalara fraxinea fungus.

She said: “I am deeply concerned to hear that the ash dieback disease has been found in Montrose and it is vital that decisive action is taken over the winter to ensure the disease does not spread any further come spring time.

“Many of our woodlands here in Angus would be absolutely devastated if the disease were to take hold.

“I welcome the UK Conservative Government’s decision to ban imports of ash trees and have made representations to the Scottish Government and the Forestry Commissions in Scotland do everything possible to tackle this disease.”