The number of woodland sites in the east of England found to be infected with deadly ash dieback has leapt to more than 20. The main concentration of cases of ash dieback – which has wiped out swaths of trees in the rest of Europe – are in mature ancient forests in East Anglia, along the coast where easterly winds arrive from Scandinavia. By Friday there were just two confirmed sites, but surveys have now turned up many more, the Forestry Commission said.

“The new cases will have to be confirmed by scientists, but it certainly looks as if there are more than 20 suspicious sites and we will continue to survey, although we really only have a one- or two-week window now to detect new cases before the autumn leaf drop makes it very difficult to see,” said Stuart Burgess of the Forestry Commission.