Ash plantation grants deferred in effort to curtail tree disease


The Department of Agriculture has suspended grant aid for ash plantations in an effort to curtail ash tree dieback disease, which has spread across Europe.

Minister of State for Agriculture Shane McEntee said the suspension was temporary until more information was gathered regarding surveillance results. Department staff have been carrying out inspections of nurseries, roadsides, farms and sites planted with imported ash, but the results will not be available until the new year.

Mr McEntee said the planting season was getting under way and would extend until next April or May.

“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.”

The first outbreak of dieback disease was found in Co Leitrim in October. Trees in 11 sites have been destroyed by cutting and burning.

Plant importation from affected areas has been banned and legislation was introduced last month to restrict the manner in which ash wood can be imported.

Last week Coillte said it had brought ash tree harvesting forward amid fears that hurley makers would run out of ash.