Ash dieback can kill young and mature ash trees and is notifiable to Defra because of its impact on a major native forest species. The case in Dawley is at the site within the newly planted landscape scheme where the replacement for the Phoenix School is being built.
It has been found in a group of trees that were sourced by the main earthworks contractor and obtained from a nursery in Lincolnshire and planted 12 months ago.
This was as part of the ground works contract to prepare the site ahead of the new Learning Community being built.
The 485 newly planted ash saplings that have the disease only form a very small proportion of the overall planting scheme.
Telford & Wrekin Council alerted the Forestry Commission after decayed leaves and sunken brown areas on the bark were spotted by an officer, prompting an on-site visit by experts.
The Forestry Commission carried out a visual diagnostic test and sent plant tissue samples to their laboratories at Alice Holt with a separate sample forwarded to FERA (Food and Environmental Research Agency) for confirmation.
It is likely that Telford & Wrekin Council will now be served with a Statutory Plant Health Notice by Defra detailing what needs to happen next.
Councillor Shaun Davies, cabinet member for Neighbourhood Services and Co-operative Council, said: “We felt it was important that people were told about this as it’s a notifiable disease and contagious within the ash tree species..
“This has been identified as a result of vigilance by council staff and we are now taking steps to clear the site of trees that are infected.”
Barnaby Wylder, from the Forestry Commission, said: “We have carried out an on site visit and photographs of stem and shoot samples have been sent to our laboratory for further tests.
“It is as a result of the council’s prompt actions that we are in a position to confirm the case and we are working closely together on the methods that will need to be used to clear the diseased trees from the site.”
Photo courtesy of Forestry Commission Picture Library