While the Government has a no-compensation policy for those affected, he has assured land owners that it will not stop direct payments to farmers affected by control measures. Reforestation of removed trees will be grant-aided.


Minister of State Shane McEntee has met IFA leaders to brief them on the legal measures he has introduced, in cooperation with authorities in the North, to prevent the spread of Ash Dieback disease.

While the Government has a no-compensation policy for those affected, he has assured land owners that it will not stop direct payments to farmers affected by control measures. Reforestation of removed trees will be grant-aided.

“This could be catastrophic, but we must remain cool and calm, and be ruthless in dealing with it and work together,” Mr McEntee said when he addressed the Seanad on the disease threat this week.


Mr Paterson called for a crackdown on imports, especially where native seeds are being sent abroad and then returned fully-grown.

“I’m not sure if we can treat plant and tree products as a free tradable commodity anymore. We had this crazy trade of sending seedlings to Holland and then bring them back and planting them here,” he told the Daily Politics.

“So I am prepared to have a very radical look at how we handle our forestry and our tree environment and how we handle the trade in those materials, which have up till now been completely free.”

Tim Briercliffe, Business Development Manager at the Horticultural Trades Association, said other species like oak, birch and chestnut are ‘grown on’ abroad.


Experts are looking for locations in the west and north-west which are naturally protected from the wind – which can carry the spores of the dieback fungus – and also isolated from contact with infected, imported saplings.

Mature trees which show natural resistance to the disease will be used to try to develop new strains of ash which could be transported to these safe havens to help restock Scotland’s forests in future.


“Ash dieback is far from being the only disease posing a risk to our native trees. Dothistroma Needle Blight, for example, is emerging as a potential threat to the Scots pine – a keystone species of the Caledonian Forest, on which many other species depend – and we have stepped up bio-security measures at our nursery to defend against it.”

With increased global trade and tree imports representing a major risk to the UK’s native trees, Trees for Life joined calls for the UK government to hold an emergency summit, bringing together forestry, plant health and conservation groups to address the threats to native trees and woods. It said that the Government should also place higher priority on conservation work.


Britain needs a radical rethink of its defences against emerging plant diseases brought in from abroad, such as the chalara fungus now threatening ash trees, the Environment Secretary, Owen Patterson, said.

Urgent measures need to be taken to prevent other infections being introduced, which might include setting up an international early warning system via British embassies, and stopping trees and plants being freely traded throughout the European Union, he said.

Announcing a series of interim measures to tackle the chalara problem, Mr Paterson said that in future, imported plant infections would have to be treated as seriously as imported animal diseases.


Tim Briercliffe, Director of Business Development at the Horticultural Trades Association, said there was no point in “chopping down” trees like the UK did during the Dutch Elm Disease crisis.

He pointed out most of Europe has no regulations on ash dieback because it is impossible to control.

Instead, he said the UK should gradually replace native ash trees with resistant varieties while working to prevent more diseases and taking plant health more seriously.

“If a mature tree gets ash dieback there no point in chopping it down. On the Continent they just live with it and live with the fact ash trees will die and just do not sell it or grow it.”


While it is too late to protect our 80 million ashes, we can make it harder for pathogens to take hold in the first place. Ash dieback came to Britain via two different routes. It was first found in saplings brought over from the Netherlands, where the disease was already rampaging. Subsequent outbreaks in the wild appear to have started with spores carried from the Continent on the wind. We can do nothing to block the sea breezes. But we can take control of imports.

Shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted? Hardly. In the past 12 years, Britain’s trees have suffered more than twice as many outbreaks of foreign infection than in the whole of the previous century. The problem is not only not going away, it is getting markedly worse.

The EU Plant Health regime is now – finally – being significantly revised, for the first time since 1978. Such reforms must be expedited. But Britain’s own border controls must also be tightened up, with “plant passports” to guarantee the health of all imports and keep track of what is coming in and from where.


The NI Agriculture Minister has strengthened emergency legislation to curb the spread of a fungus that destroys ash trees.

Michelle O’Neill moved to reassure manufacturers, including those who make hurley sticks, that ash could still be imported.

“This new legislation means that from today, ash can only be imported under certain technical conditions as set out in the Order,” she said.

“There are regular imports of ash logs for manufacturing purposes, mainly hurley sticks, and for fire wood. As a potential pathway for the disease, it is an unacceptable risk.”