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At least 137 ash trees across Co Armagh, infected by deadly fungus, to be felled by NIHE

More than 135 Ash trees across north Armagh are to be chopped down after falling victim to the deadly ‘Ash Dieback’ fungus.

The trees found to be infected have been located mostly in the Craigavon, Lurgan and Donaghcloney area so far.

The deadly Ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is a fungus which originated in Asia. It doesn’t damage its native Ash in Asia but since its introduction to Europe about 30 years ago, it has devastated the European ash which has no natural defence against it.

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A total of 137 trees in total are to be felled by the NI Housing Executive at housing estates in north Armagh.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Councillor Mark Baxter at an Ash tree in Donaghcloney which has been earmarked from axing. It is one of 137 trees in the Co Armagh area which has been infected with a deadly fungus and must be chopped down.

In Craigavon, a spokesperson for the Drumellan Community Association revealed that three consultants went through their estate and identified 18 trees with having the later stages of Ash Dieback.

“This is a disease killing the trees across Europe. The only solution is to cut the tree down as they decay and are unsafe.

“There is a 5% survival rate of the tree but if felled (cut down). We can replace with three trees.

“Unfortunately every tree in the estate is showing signs of this disease.”

An ash tree in Drumellan, Craigavon which has been infected with disease and is one of many due to be chopped down across Co Armagh.

A Housing Executive spokesman said: “We have only surveyed trees in the Lurgan and Craigavon areas to date but plan to continue inspections throughout every Housing Executive estate.

“Lurgan and Craigavon estates appear to have the biggest concentration of Ash trees in the whole Armagh area.

“We will be felling 75 trees in the Lurgan area and 62 in the Craigavon area in the coming months.

“We are only felling the most affected and dangerous trees - those close to roads, parking areas and near housing - as these are most at risk of falling or of dropping large branches.

“We have felled none so far this year as we need leaves on the trees to identify the extent of the disease but we do have an extremely dangerous tree due to be felled on Wednesday, June 1, in Drumellan as an emergency as it is badly diseased.

“In general, experts expect that only 5% of Ash trees will survive this disease. Any trees felled will be replaced.”

DUP Cllr Mark Baxter said: “The NI Housing Executive has surveyed all the Ash trees on their ground in Donacloney. Unfortunately they all have ‘Ash dieback’ which is sweeping Europe, a disease which essentially kills the trees off.

“This means the majority will have to be taken down within the next few weeks whilst the others will be monitored n.

“I counted about 8 mature trees that it will effected. I’ve been advised that all the Ash trees on their ground in Donacloney have the disease with some a lot worse than others,” said Cllr Baxter.

“The Housing Executive will replace them with Lime trees and maple trees in the autumn.”

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