Cases of the disease have now been identified across Britain and Ireland and have been widely reported in the UK press. Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, Phil Gawne MHK, has rushed-through legislation which bans importation of ash trees and ash products into the Island with immediate effect.
Minister Gawne said:
'This disease has caused widespread damage to ash tree populations in continental Europe and is particularly destructive to young ash plants, killing them within one growing season of symptoms becoming visible. Older trees can survive initial attacks but tend to succumb eventually after several seasons of infection. It could be devastating if the disease caught hold on the Island where around ¼ of hedgerow trees are ash'.'There have been no identified cases of the disease on the Island to date and we have imposed this immediate ban under emergency powers to help reduce the risk of it spreading here'.
The strain of the disease Chalara fraxinea was unknown in Great Britain until first-confirmed cases were reported in Buckinghamshire earlier this year on ash plants imported from the Netherlands. Since then, further reports of infections have been made across England, Scotland and Southern Ireland.
The Plant Health (Ash Dieback Prevention) Order 2012 has been made under the Plant Health Act 1983 and became effective on 5 November 2012. The legislation restricts imports of ash plants, products made of ash, and seeds. The Order also gives the Department powers to take action to contain or eradicate the disease when identified.