Storm Isha’s destructive trail has exposed hundreds of ash trees infected with the harmful Ash dieback disease, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Tim Lombard, from Cork, said Minister Darragh O’Brien needs to put in a place a fund to allow local authorities across the country to carry out surveys to identify Ash dieback in roadside trees and have them removed to prevent the problem spreading.
Ash dieback is a serious fungal disease in ash trees which causes them to die. It first came to Ireland in 2012 on imported European plants. The disease is prevalent across the country and is predicted to cause the death of the majority of the ash trees over the next 20 years.
“On Monday morning, I was contacted by a number of landowners who told me that many of the roadside ash trees that fell in the wake of Storm Isha appeared perfectly healthy but were found to be infected with this serious disease.
“Ash trees are most common in our hedgerows and often found along our roads. This realisation shows the need for more regular inspection of roadside ash trees.
“It’s important to remember that this isn’t just an issue for landowners. Many homeowners may have an ash tree in their roadside garden. There is a potential liability here for both landowners and homeowners. While there is an Ash dieback scheme in place for plantations, there is nothing for roadside trees,” Senator Lombard said.
He said the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage needs to intervene.
“Minister O’Brien should put in place a special fund to allow local authorities to carry out surveys to identify Ash dieback in roadside trees. Additional financial supports should be allocated for the safe removal of trees which are weakened from the disease.
“Met Eireann recorded hurricane-strength gusts at weather stations during Sunday’s storm. Wind speeds reached 124 km p/h in areas under status red warning.
“Local authorities, and emergency services reported fallen trees all over the country. In many areas fallen trees accounted for road closures.
“By minimising the risk of trees falling, we can remove a major health and safety hazard from our roads particularly during the severe weather conditions like those brought on by Storm Isha and those predicted for Storm Jocelyn and future extreme weather events,” Senator Lombard said.