To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of (1) the number of roadside ash trees in England, (2) how many of these trees will need to be felled due to ash dieback, and (3) the average cost of felling and removing each tree.
The Government has a long-established Ash Dieback Health and Safety Taskforce comprising the Forestry Commission, Natural England and key stakeholders such as the National Trust, Woodland Trust, Tree Council, CLA, Arboricultural Association, Highways Agency, Network Rail and ten Local Authorities, which meets regularly and guides our approach on reducing the impact of ash dieback on public health and safety.
Working with the Health and Safety Taskforce, we estimate that there are approximately four million ash trees situated alongside roads, of which a large proportion (approximately 1.4 million) will need to be managed. The costs of felling a tree can vary considerably, and we have used case study examples to help inform assessments – these examples range from £400-£500. A strategic approach to planning and coordination can help reduce costs, and to support Local Authorities and other regional bodies dealing with ash dieback, Defra has worked with the Tree Council to develop an Ash Dieback Toolkit. The Government has recently announced a new Tree Health pilot, which is designed to support action against pests and diseases affecting trees, the pilot includes support for diseased and infested trees outside of woodland, for example roadside ash with ash dieback.