A TREE expert has said that it is inevitable that ash dieback will come to Lancashire.

It comes as the disease was confirmed in recently-planted sites as close as Leeds and Huddersfield.

Arboriculture expert Duncan Slater, who works for Myerscough College, which has a site in Witton Park, Blackburn, said: “There are an awful lot of trees that would be affected.

“It would be devastating. Everybody’s view out of their windows would be majorly changed.

“Ash dieback is an air borne disease and on our site, we predict one in five trees will be affected.

“We are monitoring the old trees. They decay rather quickly and we will be doing an awful lot of surveying.

“Nobody wants to remove trees but nobody wants them to collapse into the road. It would be a disaster.”

Stuart Burgess, from the Forestry Commission, said the organisation was closely monitoring the situation to make sure appropriate action could be taken.

He said: “People are always on the lookout for ash dieback.

“All of our woodland officers have been keeping an eye out as part of their day-to-day work over the last couple of weeks. We agree on a map of the areas we are going to look at and then we go out and check those areas.

“Our officers would then send any samples off for laboratory testing if they suspected ash dieback.”

The symptoms of ash dieback include dead tops on saplings, lesions on branches and stems and wilted leaves.

It was first noted in the UK in February in some trees that had been imported from the Netherlands to a nursery in Buckinghamshire.

In October, scientists confirmed cases in established woodland in East Anglia which did not appear to have any association with recently supplied nursery stock.

A restriction on all movement of ash seeds, plants and trees within Great Britain was intro-duced on October 30 to prevent further spread of the disease. Woodland users are encouraged to keep and eye out for suspected cases of ash dieback call the Forestry Commission on 08459 335577 with any information.

Killer's deadly toll

  • Ash is the third most abundant species of broadleaf tree in the UK, covering 129,000 hectares.
  • Chalara ash dieback is caused by a fungus known as Chalara fraxinea.
  • Symptoms ofdieback are: saplings displaying dead tops and side shoots; lesions at base of dead side shoots; lesions on branch or stem causing wilting foliage.
  • The disease affects mature trees by killing off new growth.
  • The latest confirmed cases mean the UK joins a llist of affected nations: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.