Ash Dieback – If you own a tree, it is your responsibility

Ash dieback will continue to be a feature of our landscape, therefore it is important that all owners of affected trees are aware of their legal responsibilities. If you own a tree, it is your responsibility.

Carmarthenshire County Council, in its efforts to manage the impacts of the disease, is focusing on the trees which pose a risk to people and property. This includes trees within falling distance of roads and pavements, areas used by the public, and buildings. Trees and hedges alongside roads are usually part of the adjacent landholding and are the responsibility of the landowner.

It is now accepted practice that trees showing more than 50% dieback in their crowns, and which pose this risk should be considered for felling. Trees which have suffered from the disease for some time have a very distinctive form and are easy to spot as they have a lack of small twigs, low density of foliage in the summer and large areas of deadwood.

Each summer, Carmarthenshire County Council surveys ash trees growing alongside the A and B roads, noting those which show significant signs of the disease and which pose a threat to highway safety. This summer more than 4,000 such trees were recorded. Private landowners are responsible for the vast majority of these, and many are already organising the felling of the trees for which they are responsible. Where action is not taken the Council will use powers under the Highway Act to request that landowners fell dead and dangerous trees.

Due to diseased ash trees becoming very brittle, they should be felled by professional tree surgeons with appropriate equipment. This work usually requires the use of an elevated platform.

The winter is a good time to remove the diseased trees and it is only necessary to remove that part of the tree which could fall on the road or public area or damage a property. Sometimes the lower sections of the tree can be left standing to provide a home for wildlife; the use of an elevated platform can make this approach possible.

To make up for the loss of ash trees in our landscape landowners are encouraged to plant replacement trees elsewhere on their land and the Council’s Woodland Office is able to provide free advice on this.

Cabinet Member for Rural Affairs and Planning Policy – Cllr Ann Davies said: “It’s important that landowners are aware of their legal requirement to ensure that trees on their land are maintained to a safe standard and do not pose a risk to the public.

“You can consult an arborist if you are unsure about the health of a tree on your land but, as a County Council, we would always advise that landowners use an accredited tree surgeon to fell a tree to ensure that it is done to the highest safety and professional standards.”

For further information please visit Ash Dieback page on the Council’s website.

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