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Deadly ash dieback disease hits Lewes

Lewes Ash Die Back - Advanced Warning

Ash trees in Lewes in the grip of the deadly ash dieback disease are soon to be removed, with many of the dead trees posing a significant risk to motorists on local roads.

Across the UK local authorities, alongside the Forestry Commission, are tackling an ash dieback plague that some forecast to wipe out 95% of ash trees. 

The deadly airborne fungus has spread rapidly and has now left many trees in Lewes dead or dying. 

A diseased tree becomes dangerous, with branches or the tree itself at a high risk of falling onto roads, footpaths and property. 

Contractors will soon begin work to remove the trees in woodland adjacent to the busy A275, Offham Road and Nevill Road. 

Matthew Woodcock, from the Forestry Commission’s South East team, said: “Lewes District Council has consulted with us and agreed a plan of action to tackle this damaging tree disease which includes the commencement of felling operations in the interests of public safety.”

The operation will take approximately three weeks to complete during late February and early March, outside of the main nesting and breeding season.

Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Sustainability, said: “While other authorities are dealing with many more diseased trees compared to ourselves, thousands in some cases such as Eastbourne, the gravity of the situation in Lewes town is exacerbated by the location of the trees affected by ash dieback.  

“Many of the dead trees are positioned right next to a heavily used road and are a potential danger to motorists, anyone walking in the vicinity and in some cases, residential properties.

“Council officers are working closely with the Forestry Commission and others, and have identified which trees must be removed as a matter of urgency, albeit with a deep regret. It is important to point out that trees will naturally grow back and where appropriate we will progress new planting as part of our biodiversity plans.” 

To allow the urgent work to proceed safely, some temporary road closures are inevitable, as follows: 

  • A275 Offham Road and pavement, north of the Landport Fork, closed Monday 24 to Saturday 29 February 2020 between 9:30am to 3pm. Diversions will be in place. The road will reopen overnight between the hours of 3pm to 9:30am but will be single lane only and controlled by static traffic lights. Pedestrian access will also be closed. Limited bus service may be available. Check with Compass Travel. 

  • Nevill Road, between the Racecourse Motor Road and the Landport Fork, closed Monday 2 to Friday 6 March 2020 between 9:30am and 3pm. Diversions will be in place. The road will reopen overnight between 3pm and 9:30am but will be single lane only and controlled by static traffic lights.

  • Offham Road, south of the Landport Fork (between the Landport Fork and King Henrys Road), closed week commencing 2 March 2020. Will be controlled by manned traffic lights. 

  • The footpath and steps between Bloise Road and Offham Road, the path between Offham Road and Hill Road/Wallands School, and the Bridleway Hill Road to the racecourse Motor Road will be closed from Monday 24 February to Friday 6 March.

Published on 13 February, 2020