Ash ban may have come too late as Cobra crisis meeting looks to save UK woodland

Ash trees like this one are under threat
Ash trees like this one are under threat Photo:

The disease threatening to wipe out the majority of Britain's ash trees may have spread further than previously believed - as experts believe a ban on importing the trees was too slow.

This is despite a Cobra crisis committee meeting.

People are now being told to wash their dogs and shoes after walking in woodland to try and help stop the spread of the disease.

The Government banned imports of ash trees on Monday after a programme that has seen 100,000 specimens destroyed since the disease was discovered in March.But experts have told ITV News that this ban have have come too late.

Michael Shaw, Professor of plant disease ecology at the University of Reading, told ITV News Science and Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty that the delay in banned ash imports highlights the law is not fit for purpose:

This morning, it emerged that another potentially infected site had been found in Kent.

Professor Ian Boyd, the Department for Environment (Defra)'s chief scientific adviser, said he expected more trees to become infected in coastal areas.

There is some suggestion that there may be some sites in Kent that might be infected.

We have known that there's a possibility of infection but we have to confirm that, it's not confirmed at the moment.

I think the general message is that we now are seeing a pattern which is suggesting there's been transmission by wind across from the Continent so we probably should expect some forms of infection to emerge along coastal regions.

But no other sites elsewhere in the country have had any either suspected or confirmed infections in established trees.

– Professor Ian Boyd, the Department for Environment

The news came after Environment Secretary Owen Paterson convened a Cobra crisis committee to examine the latest developments and co-ordinate action to halt the spread of the fungal disease, which causes leaf loss and crown dieback.