Councillor Stephen Reid, County Council Executive Member for Commercial Strategy, Human Resources and Performance, said: “Ash dieback was confirmed in Hampshire in 2014 and we know it is spreading to the ash trees commonly found across the county. The County Council continually monitors the spread of this disease on a site-by-site basis across Hampshire’s countryside, roads and the buildings we manage, to ensure that dead and dying ash trees do not pose a risk to the safety of people, wildlife, or property.
“This ongoing monitoring has identified a hotspot of around 130 diseased ash trees on County Council land located along the edge of St Faith’s Conservation Area in Havant, where the die back has progressed to around 20% of each infected tree’s branches and branch tips, or crown. The removal of this many trees is a tragedy and is the last thing we would want to do but we know that, once infected, ash dieback disease can spread extremely quickly, further weakening these trees and causing their branches to fall. It is therefore essential to take action without delay and remove the diseased trees, especially given that some of these trees stand on the conservation area’s boundary with Bosmere Junior School.
“Our Property Services team, which is responsible for the management of the school site, has submitted a conservation application to Havant Borough Council, which is the local planning authority for tree works within Havant’s conservation areas and manages St Faith’s. We fully appreciate that the removal of this many trees will have an impact on the landscape’s appearance and, once approved to carry out this work, will ensure that the diseased trees are removed in a way that creates as little disturbance as possible to the surrounding land, wildlife and wider community. We will also strictly follow any recommendations from the borough council as to what replanting may be required.”
The County Council submitted a conservation application on 3 November 2020 to Havant Borough Council for the removal of the 130 diseased ash trees, and it is anticipated that the work could begin as soon as the end of November, pending approval. Due to some of the diseased trees being very close to Park Road North, a traffic management plan is also being considered for either traffic control measures or a road closure to be temporarily put in place.
Ash dieback is a disease caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxinea, previous known as Chalara fraxinea, and is of eastern Asian origin. The disease causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees and will in most cases lead to tree death particularly in younger trees.
Further information about ash die back, including how to identify and report it, can be found on the County Council’s website at www.hants.gov.uk/landplanningandenvironment/countryside/ash-dieback-disease