Plans under way to tackle ash dieback

Ash dieback, also known as Chalara, can cause trees to lose their leaves, shed their branches and in most cases causes them to die.

A programme is now under way to remove or prune those trees which have succumbed to the disease and pose a safety risk. Safety of residents and motorists is a priority which has prompted the council to engage experienced and qualified arboricultural contractors, working at the council’s instruction, focusing on affected trees along the highways and in public places.

The programme is expected to last several years and will include the felling and pruning of individual trees or large numbers in a single location.

Unfortunately, the scale of the problem is so large and challenging that work has to be carried out throughout the year.

To date trees have been removed and pruned at Birk Brow, Slapewath, Normanby, Nunthorpe and Marske, with trees only being felled where absolutely necessary as we are in bird nesting season.

Inspections of any visible birds’ nests are undertaken before any work is carried out to affected trees.

The public will be kept informed if there is a need to fell or prune trees along highways or in a public place, however, residents can expect further works which may require road closures as we deal with trees along the A171 in the next few months.

Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Housing, Cllr Adam Brook, said:

“The impact ash dieback is having across the UK is devasting and in Redcar and Cleveland our focus is on decaying trees before they become dangerous to members of the public and motorists.

“Ash dieback is a progressive disease, and some trees need to be felled straight away while others can wait. However, the disease cannot be eradicated and is now viewed as endemic in this country, therefore, in many cases there will be no alternative but to remove the trees.

"While it is sad to see the loss of trees, public safety is our utmost priority, and we must ensure that they do not become a danger to people or properties. A council was recently fined £280,000 when a falling tree tragically resulted in the death of a child, highlighting the importance of dealing with these issues swiftly in areas that are accessed by the public.

“In the last two years the council have planted more than 22,000 trees and we have an annual tree planting programme in our ongoing drive to create a greener borough and to increase biodiversity in the area.”

Ash dieback, originally from eastern Asia, was first identified in England in 2012.

It is predicted up to 80% of ash trees in the UK could be affected over the next decade.