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Ash dieback luring cowboy tree surgeons


Ash dieback has drawn cowboy tree surgeons out of the woodwork to try and scaremonger homeowners into having their trees felled, Trading Standards' officers have warned.

Recent cases of the disease in the South East prompted rogue traders to knock on doors and offer to chop down trees they claim have the disease. In December alone, there were 35 confirmed cases of the fungal disease in Kent.

The cold callers say the trees need to be felled, but private owners have no obligation to take action. Trading Standards said the county council became involved after a resident reported being approached.

Arboricultural Association technical officer Simon Richmond said: "Defra and the Forestry Commission advise not to fell mature trees; the illness does not make them dangerous and the best way of researching the disease is to have as many trees standing."

Meanwhile, Defra's Chalara Fraxinea Management Plan report is due this month. The report will address action being taken and new ways of tackling the disease. This might include quarantine areas.

Silviculture International owner Ted Wilson says this expensive "special protection area" idea, floated by Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stuart, could be a used as a "last resort".
National Trust gardens representative Jeanette Heard said the trust wants to create "buffer zones" around ancient ash and will introduce them even if Defra doesn't. Defra said that was a matter for the National Trust.


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Ash dieback luring cowboy tree surgeons