The report also recommended appointing a “tree tsar” to oversee national strategies against plant disease outbreaks, in the same way that the chief veterinary officer leads the response to outbreaks like bluetongue and foot and mouth.

Environmentalists said the plan focused too much on developing resistance to the disease and not enough on stopping it from spreading, and accused ministers of penny-pinching.

But Harry Cotterell, president of the Country Land and Business Association, said: “Mr Paterson is right not to rush into unnecessary expensive control measures before the chances of success have been properly evaluated.”