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O’Neill and McEntee agree common position on ash wood imports

Today in Armagh, forestry Ministers Michelle O’Neill and Shane McEntee TD agreed further restrictions on the importation of ash into Ireland.
Friday, 2 November 2012

Commenting on recent reports about the disease in England, and continental Europe Michelle O’Neill said: “We must do everything possible and sensible to prevent ash dieback reaching our shores. The threat is so serious that Minister McEntee and I have agreed to bring in additional measures to prevent imports of infected ash timber and firewood.”

Minister McEntee said: “Scientific advice is that the movement of ash timber is a possible pathway of infection, albeit of lower risk than for plants, which we both banned last week. Even though the risk is lower, the consequences of infection are so bad that we have to take any risk very seriously.”

The Ministers discussed their recent meetings with stakeholders who regularly import ash wood from infected areas. In view of the information gathered at these meetings, the Ministers said: “We believe that the threat from the disease is imminent and we need to strengthen the legislation now by bringing wood within the scope of the controls."

“Officials north and south will now work over the weekend drafting further legislation to provide a proportionate response to the threat. We agree that an absolute ban is impracticable, but we believe that there are treatments of wood that will reduce the risk substantially.”

The Ministers agreed that the legislation would close the door for disease to be introduced on wood.

Notes to editors:

  1. Chalara fraxinea is a serious disease which has caused the death of many ash trees in European countries. Legislation was introduced north and south on Friday 26 October banning the import and movement of ash plants for planting from infected areas.
  2. When the legislation comes into place, importers will be required to demonstrate that wood is free from infection by showing that it comes from an area known to be free from disease, or has been treated to remove or kill any disease present by removing the rounded surface, or has been dried to less than 20% moisture content.
  3. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.