A TREE rotting disease has been found for the first time in East Lancashire, but Forestry Commission officials have refused to state exactly where the infected tree has been found.

Calls have now been made demanding to know the location where ash dieback has been found.

The case has been marked on a map on the Forestry Commission’s website, although the exact location is not identifiable.

The organisation said the disease involved a recently-planted site.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said: “I think the public deserves to know. My main issue with ash dieback is the lack of communication.

“This is a shambles by the government. There seems to be a complete lack of information in terms of local authorities, who are dealing with trees. Even if the infection is not on local authority land, they should still be notified and then we can start to plan.”

Yesterday, Lancashire County Council, Hyndburn Council, Ribble Valley Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Pendle Council had not been told about the outbreak.

Arboriculture expert Duncan Slater, who works for Myerscough College, which has a site in Witton Park, Blackburn, said: “It is a mixed message.

“The Forestry Commission is talking about bio-diversity and washing your boots, but obviously people would take more care if you knew a particular woodland had an infection.”

The discovery brings confirmed cases UK-wide to 200.

Stuart Burgess, from the Forestry Commission, said: “The map on the Forestry Commission website shows a recentlyplanted site with a confirmed infection in East Lancashire.

“It is to the north of Blackburn and the west of Burnley and it is a planted site, rather than in the wider environment, but we are not in a position to narrow down that location any further.”

It is understood exact locations are not being given out because of a threat of legal action from garden centres and nurseries.

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 conf-irmed 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 introduced on October 30.

Tree disease

  • 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 of dieback 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.