One of the UK's largest growers of trees, Crowders Nursuries, is to sue the Government over its slow response to the killer ash dieback disease which looks set to cause the destruction of huge numbers of ash trees around the UK.
The company, based in Horncastle, Lincolnshire, has already destroyed some 50,000 of its ash trees after it was hit by dieback.
The company claims that it warned the Government three months ago that its trees had been affected and wanted advice on what it should do.
Ash dieback is a fungal disease caused by fungus chalara fraxinea. It was first reported in Poland in 1992, previously affecting countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The disease has already forced the destruction of 75% of the ash trees in Denmark and has almost completely decimated the populations in Poland and Lithuania.
The nursery claim they were served a notice by the Food and Environmental Research Agency (FERA) forbidding them from doing anything with their ash stock, including selling it, moving it or destroying it whilst the Government sought advice on how to tackle the disease.
Simon Ellis is the managing director of Crowders.
He said: "At that time we only had it on a few trees in the nursery and by the time the destruction order came in September, three months later, the disease had spread to a lot of trees on the nursery - really like wildfire."
The Government has ruled out paying compensation for the loss of any trees as a result of the disease and has banned imports of ash trees.
Meanwhile tree experts have been surveying a thousand sites where saplings have been taken from nurseries that are now known to have had the disease.
Damages sought over ash dieback (Evening Standard)