Devon takes proactive approach in managing Ash dieback

Posted on: 16 May 2018

Plans to manage the risk of Ash dieback in Devon to protect public safety have been approved by councillors today (Wednesday 16 May).

Devon County Council’s Cabinet agreed its proactive approach to potentially increase the frequency of trees inspections – initially to every two years – to reduce the risk of falling trees and branches.

Around 20% of all trees in Devon are ash trees, and virtually all native Ash trees are expected to succumb to Ash dieback.

Cllr Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “Ash Dieback represents a serious threat to Devon’s environment as well as being a threat to public safety. The nature of Devon’s highways network with a high proportion of hedgerow trees, many of which are Ash, means that the impact on public safety could be greater than for some authorities where the disease is more advanced.

“It is important that we make appropriate provision financially and take action to ensure public safety at the appropriate time. As the disease progresses over the next few years this will need to be monitored and reviewed.”

Devon County Council surveys from 2013 estimate there are 6,300 trees on highway land, 3,900 on Devon County Council land and 3,100 on school grounds. The authority may have to spend around £2.5 million felling its own trees.

Across the County there are also around 440,000 Ash trees that are owned by third parties or on unregistered land that are within falling distance of the highway. The overall cost of felling all of these ash trees which could affect the highway could be more than £70 million.

Landowners are responsible for ensuring that trees on their property do not present a risk to the public and are therefore encouraged to have them regularly inspected. Where Devon County Council is made aware of dangerous private trees near the highway, a notice will be issued to landowners. If a landowner fails to act on a notice the Council may carry out the work and recharge the landowner.

Devon has been proactive in managing Ash dieback, establishing the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum with key stakeholders.

The Council’s Cabinet also supported measures to mitigate the impact of Ash dieback, including immediate action to replace trees that are lost and planting of a diverse range of tree types to develop a more resilient landscape which can cope with future tree pests and diseases. It will be adopting the ‘Devon 3/2/1 formula’, where at least three new trees should replace each large tree lost, two for a medium tree and one for a small tree.

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Posted in: Community | Environment