Dr Tony Whitbread, chief executive of Sussex Wildlife Trust, explained to the Today programme’s science correspondent Tom Feilden that “it is difficult to know the impact” of the disease but added “to say that it will make the Dutch Elm Disease look trivial is an understatement”.

Dr Glynn Percival, an expert on tree diseases at Reading University, explained to Today presenter Justin Webb that that ash dieback is “beyond containment and beyond eradication”.

“We’re now looking at management” of eradication, he added.