Ash dieback disease has been discovered in North Leeds, it has been revealed.
C. Fraxinea, to give it its official name, which is threatening to devastate the country’s ash trees, has been found at an undisclosed location to the south of Otley.
No Leeds City Council land has been affected so far, and it is understood the affected trees were newly planted on private land.
The infection between Leeds and Otley is shown on a Forestry Commission map plotting the affected sites as they are discovered. But Defra is refusing to publicise precise locations for fear of deterring landowners from coming forward. So far the disease has been found at about 115 locations nationwide.
The site’s inclusion on the map comes in the wake of a briefing to councillors and officers at Leeds City Council about the spread of the disease and its potential effects.
A council spokeswoman said there had been no cases on council owned land to date.
A recent briefing to the local authority by its forestry department said: “Scores of newly planted sites throughout the UK are being monitored; many have confirmed infections, including one near north Leeds.”
The report added: “As well as affecting young, recently planted trees originating from imported nursery stocks, C. Fraxinea poses a clear risk to our native forest trees, plus trees in urban settings, such as parks and gardens and along road verges.”
Where the disease is confirmed, landowners can be ordered to uproot or fell infected trees and destroy them on site. No movement of ash trees away from infected sites is allowed.
The UK is facing a potential loss of 90 per cent of its ash population, and in parts of the Leeds area, that figure could equate to as much as a third of its entire stock.
All of the councils’ parks and countryside staff are being briefed about the symptoms to look out for to try and spot any early signs.