Council ‘could spend millions’ to combat tree fungal disease

Glasgow City Council could cut down 31,000 trees to combat ash dieback disease in the city.

Council ‘could spend millions’ to combat tree fungal disease iStock

Tens of thousands of ash trees could be chopped down in Glasgow in a bid to combat a fungal disease spreading through the city – costing nearly £40m.

Action is being taken to prevent people and property from being hit by falling branches or toppled trees, with many affected by ash dieback disease which has been steadily spreading north in the UK.

The Woodland Trust warned the rotting disease will kill 80% of ash trees across Britain, changing the country’s landscape “forever”.

There are 125,000 ash trees on public land in Glasgow and 35,000 of them are thought to be at high risk of the disease.

The areas in Glasgow where ash trees are big enough to cause harm are in places where members of the public use on a regular basis, such as streets, school grounds, sports centres, public parks, allotments and cemeteries.

Environmental chiefs at Glasgow City Council are now looking at cutting down 31,000 trees in the coming years to tackle the problem.

The cost of felling and removing the trees is expected to run into tens of millions of pounds and the council said it will need the Scottish Government to help with costs.

Ash dieback is caused by a fungus and is thought to be the biggest issue affecting trees since Dutch elm disease led to the loss of millions of trees across the UK in the 1970s and 1980s.

Council parks and tree officers have said there has been a noticeable in ash dieback in the last two years.

Tree experts say there is no evidence that the fungus can affect or infect humans or animals.

Instead, the risk is posed by dead or dying trees falling down or branches falling off with the risk of injury and hitting people or cars and homes.

It costs between £800 to £1200 to fell a tree with the total cost of the programme estimated to be as much as £38m.

George Gillespie, executive director of neighbourhoods at Glasgow City Council said: “Clearly these are huge sums and the expectation although unconfirmed at the moment is there will be a level of Government support to address this country-wide issue.

“The visual and environmental impact will be unavoidable, as ash trees make up just over 12% of the tree population across Glasgow.

“Although, this loss could be alleviated within a period of approximately 20 years as replacement trees reach heights of approximately ten to 15 metres.”

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