Council faces £8.3m bill to cut down more than 8,000 disease-infected trees
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
More than 8,000 ash trees infected with a “devastating” disease will have to be cut down, with the estimated cost of works at more than £8.3 million.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service has revealed the devastating impact of ash dieback disease on trees in the city of Newport.
Thousands of trees across the city are being felled by the council, including hundreds which were cut down in woodland off Caerleon Road.
Further urgent works in other areas have been identified, with the issue now a severe risk on the city council’s risk register.
A review in October identified 8,600 ash trees which belong to Newport City Council.
And now an FOI request has revealed that all 8,600 trees with ash dieback disease in Newport will have to be felled.
The cost to fell the trees is estimated at £8,355,900 in the Newport local authority area, a figure which could rise higher if there are insurance claims, according to the FOI. This includes removal costs, replanting and ecology costs.
A Newport City Council spokeswoman said: “Ash dieback is a devastating airborne disease and surveys have established 8,600 infected trees across the city.
“While we regret the loss of any trees, they will have to be removed as there is no cure.
“However, the council is committed to planting two trees for every one that is cut down.
“Priority for removal is based on the stage of the disease and the risk.
“For this reason, urgent work was undertaken late last year by specialist contractors to remove a significant number of mature ash trees along part of Caerleon Road.
“Ash dieback had infected most of the woodland in the area and the trees were rapidly dying.
“They were cut down to ground level and, although new trees will be planted, it will be some time before the woodland looks the same as it once did.”
Ash dieback causes trees to lose their leaves and become brittle, making them a safety hazard.
Between 75 and 95 per cent of all ash trees in the UK will be lost to ash dieback within the next 20-30 years, the National Trust has warned.