Ash Dieback Disease is the most significant tree disease to affect the UK since Dutch Elm Disease.
Ash dieback affects the leaves of ash trees causing them to blacken, wilt and die from around June onwards. For very young trees this and the diamond shaped lesions (areas of discoloured bark) on the stem are the key features of early infection. It appears that most of ash trees in West Lothian are already affected by this disease with an estimated 30% of semi-mature and mature trees in severe decline. Trees affected by Ash Dieback Disease become brittle and can be very unpredictable and dangerous to climb, prune or fell. Those showing advanced dieback symptoms should not be climbed. Felling of dead and dying Ash in effect makes an already hazardous operation much more dangerous, it is essential that every effort is made to fell these sites mechanically and to keep any chainsaw operations to an absolute minimum. Ash tree owners are advised to undertake routine inspections to monitor the decline and safety of their trees, and when necessary employ qualified and experienced arborists to undertake work.
West Lothian Council will only be dealing with trees on public land, such as parks, schools, or within roadside verges that it owns and/or manages.
The council also has a duty of care to protect the public from dangerous trees on private land that have the potential to impact public areas such as highways. The council has surveyed trees along its road network and may contact householders and landowners where trees with Ash Dieback Disease are within falling distance of roads, well-used paths and other areas well-used by the public or themselves.
A felling and pruning contract has been awarded for 2023 and this will see works undertaken in a variety of areas ranging from main roads, to trees in open spaces.
Due to the nature of the work this is likely cause disruption to the road network.
Ash trees have been marked in areas that have been surveyed and identified for work, the public should be able to identify these where pink or yellow spray paint is on the trunk, trees marked with a slash indicates felling, trees marked with a spot will undergo remedial work such as dead wooding or crown reduction.
Updates on specific locations and anticipated time scales will be provided before work commences.
You can find the most up to date list of scheduled works and a lot more information about Ash Dieback Disease by visiting the West Lothian Council website: https://westlothian.gov.uk/ash-dieback-disease
There are thousands of ash trees on public land in West Lothian and many more on private land. Ash is one of the most common, native tree species in the area, and it contributes significantly to the local landscape and ecology.
Trees affected by Ash Dieback Disease can provide a very important habitat for fungi and invertebrates, which feed on the decaying wood, and in turn birds which feed on them. Other creatures such as mice and bats make their home in them. Consideration will be given to retaining these declining trees, wherever it is safe to do so.
Where trees are removed on safety grounds by the council, new trees of another suitable species will be replanted. This will be either in the same location or in a nearby one, so that the treed landscape across the whole council area is enhanced in the long-term.
To report ash trees of concern please call the contact centre on 01506 280000 or via an online form: https://westlothian.gov.uk/article/75194/Tree-Related-Issues-and-Enquiries
Executive councilor for environment and sustainability, Tom Conn said: "Unfortunately Ash Dieback Disease is going to have an effect on a significant proportion of the West Lothian tree population. Where possible the aim will be to undertake work in a planned and efficient manner to deal with all the seriously diseased trees in a whole section of road at a time rather than having multiple road closures."
"New trees will be planted to replace any diseased trees which are taken down on safety grounds."