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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress the Chalara Control Plan has made on (a) reducing the rate of spread and (b) developing resistance to the disease in the native UK ash tree population; and what management guidance his Department has offered to land owners with trees showing signs of the fungus.
The Government is pursuing a collaborative and largely voluntary approach to slowing the spread of Chalara in England, by encouraging landowners to remove recently planted, infected trees which could increase the rate of spread. The Forestry Commission has published guidance to support the Chalara Management Plan and its recommendations. This includes cost effective options for removal, disposal and replanting, as well as management of infected trees and general woodland management. Further guidance may be developed or revised as the management plan develops.
Since the end of April, landowners in some parts of England have been able to apply for grants under the England Woodland Grant scheme (EWGS), to support the removal of young, infected ash trees. Landowners throughout England have been able to apply for grants under EWGS to enable them to plant other trees in areas where they would once have planted ash.
Alongside this we are supporting a £2.4 million research programme to identify potential treatments and genetic resistance. Work on the resistance trials started in May. The Forestry Commission is running large-scale field trials and is planting 250,000 young ash trees in infected areas to screen for possible sources of resistance. We have also commissioned research to investigate genetic resistance in a laboratory setting. The Food and Environment Research Agency is currently trialling 14 treatments that could help slow the spread of Chalara.