Ash tree disease found near Rugby

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THE much-feared ash dieback disease has been found at a nursery near Rugby.

Initial tests by Government scientists have confirmed the fungus in one batch at Bernhard’s Nursery on the Straight Mile in Bourton.

Further checks are taking place to find out whether the tree was grown in the UK or imported.

More than 100,000 trees have been destroyed in the UK to slow the spread of the disease.

The fungal spores are thought to spread on the wind, although there are concerns that they may also be transferred from fallen leaves.

The Government has advised walkers to wash their boots to help limit the spread of the disease.

Steve Trotter, chief executive of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, said: “It is very worrying.

“It is potentially very bad news for wildlife and our landscapes if the disease is as bad as it could be.”

He said the trust would be keeping a careful watch on its nature reserves for the early signs of the disease.

Trees cannot be vaccinated and there is no known cure for ash dieback.

Mr Trotter added: “Ash is our third most common tree, really important in hedgerows and woodlands.

“They support over 100 species of insect, on which birds feed and all sorts of other wildlife feed.”

Ash dieback, chalara fraxinea, has swept across Europe and is now putting Britain’s 80 million ash trees at deadly risk.

Peter Thorne, reserves officer for the trust, said: “We urge visitors to our nature reserves and elsewhere in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull to be vigilant and report any concerns they may have about ash dieback disease to Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.”

Ash dieback disease is characterised by wilting and black or brown discolouration of leaves, small blemishes or lesions on the bark and withered tree tops and shoots.

Anyone who thinks they have spotted symptoms of the disease should contact the Forestry Commission Plant Health Service on 0131 314 6414 or Warwickshire Wildlife Trust on (024) 7630 2912.

No-one from Bernhard’s Nusery was available for comment as the Advertiser went to press.