Over the next week, Natural England will be contacting Environmental Stewardship customers and owners of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with advice on how they can help combat ash dieback disease (Chalara fraxinea).  Natural England is also providing important advice on how to protect agri-environment payments should the disease be found in young trees planted as part of an Environmental Stewardship scheme.

A key part of the advice to Environmental Stewardship agreement holders is that in view of the exceptional circumstances of ash dieback disease and the possible requirement to remove ash saplings that have been planted or managed under an ES scheme, Natural England will endeavour to protect their Environmental Stewardship payments under the scheme’s force majeure terms.  (Under standard ES scheme rules, the removal of trees forming part of an ES agreement would normally result in the terms of the agreement not being met, which can result in the recovery of grant payments).