WORK is underway in Carmarthenshire to tackle a serious fungal disease which is affecting ash trees across the country.

It is estimated that 90% of ash trees could die from ash dieback disease for which there is currently no known treatment.

The fungus infects the leaves and spreads through to the branches, causing the tree to eventually die. Dead branches and the trunk of the tree can become very brittle causing it to fall, posing a serious risk to both people and property.

The council is taking a risk-based approach to tackling the issue and ash trees along all Class 1 and 2 roads, the county’s busiest roads which make up 17% of the total highway network, have been surveyed.

Trees showing at least 50% of ash dieback in their crowns and which pose a risk to road users will have to be felled. A total of 2,512 trees have been identified.

Felling work will start later this month in Llanelli along the A4138 between Trostre and Llangennech where 215 trees along the stretch will be felled. This is the busiest road in the county for which the council is responsible.

The works are scheduled to start at Penprys roundabout on Wednesday, February 26 and are expected to take eight days to complete with the final phase taking place at the Talyclun junction on Sunday, March 1. The majority of works will be carried out from the cycle path to maintain traffic flow as much as possible and between 9am and 3pm to avoid rush hours.

The council will be writing to private landowners with trees alongside Class 1 and 2 roads offering guidance and advice on how to deal with ash dieback.

Surveys are also being carried out on ash trees on other council-owned land such as schools, car parks, council housing areas, safe routes and cycle paths. Surveys on ash trees alongside Class 3 and 4 roads will follow.

Executive Board Member for the Environment Cllr Hazel Evans said: “This is a very sad situation, but unfortunately we have no choice but to remove the trees if they have the disease and are in a location which poses a risk to public safety. We will try to minimise the disruption to road users as much as possible.

“It is a serious problem for both councils and other landowners across the UK and a lot of work is being carried out. It is important we raise awareness of the disease, particularly with landowners to offer guidance and advice, as well as the public in general.

“There will be a need for new trees to be planted to compensate for the loss of ash trees in the county, and we will be actively seeking funding to support re-planting projects.”

Symptoms of ash dieback disease are usually first apparent in the crown of the tree, with leaves turning black and falling in late summer rather than autumn, there can also be visible lesions above and below the point where the branches join the trunk of the tree.

For further information including frequently asked questions and advice please visit the website carmarthenshire.gov.wales/ashdieback

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