The UK is in the grip of an ash dieback plague that is forecast to wipe out 95% of ash trees in the UK. The deadly airborne fungus has rapidly spread and has now left hundreds of trees in Lewes dead or dying.
The fungus attacks the vascular system of the tree. It stops water from moving around the tree, so nutrients are cut off and the tree dies.
Once infected, a diseased tree becomes dangerous, with branches or the tree itself at a high risk of falling onto roads, footpaths and property. Although scientists are hopeful of developing resistant strains of ash tree, currently there is no preventative treatment available.
The gravity of the situation in Lewes town is exacerbated by the location of the trees affected by ash dieback. Many of the trees are positioned next to the A275, Offham Road and Nevill Road. They present a very real danger to road users, anyone walking in the vicinity and in some cases, residential properties.
Working closely with the Forestry Commission we know which trees must be removed as a matter of urgency, albeit with deep regret. The Forestry Commission has issued the council with a licence to undertake the work.
To better limit the impact on wildlife, the operation can only take place during the winter months, outside of the main nesting and breeding season. The work will take two weeks. Inevitably, it will mean limited road closures that will cause disruption. However, we are doing all we can to mitigate this.
We will publish further information about road closures once the details are confirmed.