The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Shane McEntee TD, has announced a temporary suspension of the grant aiding of new ash plantations under the Department’s afforestation schemes until more information is gathered regarding surveillance results, the risk of the disease establishing in Ireland and the effects the disease might have on our existing ash plantations.
This precautionary decision will not affect landowners who have already planted with ash. All registered foresters are being advised of this suspension and of the facility to substitute ash with another species - (i) for all future applications under the afforestation schemes and (ii) for clients with currently valid technical approvals that includes ash, who intend planting. Over the last three weeks, Department staff has been carrying out targeted surveillance inspections of sites planted with imported ash, forest and non-forest nurseries, roadsides and farms.
The full picture from this survey will not be known until the New Year. Speaking today Minister McEntee said “It is important that we continue our aim of eradication of the disease and I am pleased that the Department has now provided training on the winter symptoms of the disease to staff internally but also to Teagasc foresters, Coillte staff and to private forestry contractors. The more trained personnel we have looking out for this disease in an organised fashion the better”. The Minister added “I have discussed the issue of planting ash at length with my Northern Ireland colleague Minister Michelle O’ Neill MLA and we both feel that we are at the start of a planting season that extends until April or May next year and before carrying out any further ash planting, we should have as much information as possible about the disease and the results from the ash surveys on the island.”