The deadly fungus has been detected by the Forestry Commission in imported saplings recently planted in Devon, the furthest west the disease has travelled so far.

“Devon is renowned for its hedgerows and the effect will be very visible – we will start to see holes and gaps appearing.

“It is early and we are keeping our fingers crossed but I think someone is going to have to do an inventory of nurseries who have unwittingly imported this and decide what to do.

“There may just be a small window of opportunity.”