Wednesday 17 March 2021

Ash Dieback is a fungal disease which came to the UK in 2012 and has spread rapidly. There is no cure for the disease and it looks set to kill up to 95% of the UK’s Ash trees in the course of the next decade. The responsibility to effectively manage Ash trees to ensure that they do not fail and cause damage to property or harm to human life, lies with the owners of these trees. 

Depending on the number of trees owned, the task of logging, inspecting and managing Ash trees safely over the next decade will be extremely onerous. This is happening at a time when budgets are already tight for public sector land owners and there is no additional resource being provided for this work. In high risk locations there is likely to be no option but to cut Ash trees down in significant numbers. 

This requires a delicate balance between public safety and public awareness to ensure, in a world where we are all working towards environmental objectives, that large scale tree removal is understood and steps taken to mitigate the loss of the ecosystems and services that the Ash trees provide.

Sarah Dodd is a Partner at DAC Beachcroft, heading up the team dealing with tree cases arising from subsidence, tree failure, Japanese knot weed and Ash Dieback. Sarah has 19 years of experience in this field and is seen a one of the key legal advisers in this area. Sarah also holds the role as the Vice Chair of the subsidence forum and will become Chair in May 2021.

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