MORE needs to be done to bring work tackling ash dieback “in house” to save money with potential costs in the region of £10million over the next decade estimated by council officers.
Ash dieback is a national issue with diseased tree posing a health and safety issue especially near roads and well-used areas.
Ceredigion County Council has prepared an Ash dieback action plan which was presented to thriving communities overview and scrutiny on Wednesday, March 3.
Tree safety surveys are to be kept up to date and trees with a least 50 per cent disease damage are tagged for further action, with landowners reminded of their responsibility for tree on their land.
The local authority is responsible for trees on council owned or managed land, as well as those within falling distance of where it has a duty of care such as public highways, rights of way – this is estimated to be around 57,000.
A report to the committee states that survey costs of £200,000, felling costs of £6.49million, replacement planting of £2million and staffing costs of £700,000 would total £9.39million based on a ten year programme on council owned land.
Another £20million is estimated to be the cost of removing trees next to the county’s roads on private land with owners “expected to shoulder a considerable financial burden.”
Councillors, including Marc Davies, Ifan Davies and Euros Davies, questioned the costs of the work of the plan and called for more details on bringing survey, felling and other works “in house” to save money.
Cabinet member for highways and environmental services Cllr Dafydd Edwards added that this was a “worst case scenario” draft and more information was needed to make a more detailed plan, saying “we need to reduce the costs as much as possible.”
Ceredigion, along with other local authorities, is calling on Welsh Government support to fund the safety work.
Balancing the work with biodiversity concerns was also an issue but “health and safety” was the biggest concern.