Sudden Oak Death
22nd Jan 09
Sudden Oak Death has reached parts of the South East including the New Forest from America.
It  is being investigated by the forestry commision and the Department for Food and Rural Affairs to determine the scale of the outbreak and destroy the diseased plants.

Its correct name is phytophthora ramorum and it poses little threat to our native oaks, although it is thought that beech and ash are susecptable. In america it has killed significant numbers of tan oaks and native american oaks.

In the New Forest a number of rhododendrons beside the famous Rhinefield Ornamental Drive near Brokenhurst have been found to be infected.

Symtoms include leaf tip dieback, lesions, and wilted stems on the infected shrubs, and oozing lesions on infected tree trunks.

People visiting areas known to be infected are advised to stay on footpaths, keep dogs on leads, disinfect footwear, and not to bring any plant material, dead or alive back home for fear of spreading the disease.


New tree disease affecting native oaks
11th Jun 08

Two cases of a new pathogen that could seriously affect trees have been found in native English oak (Quercus robur) trees in a wood near Redruth in Cornwall. This is the first discovery of fungal disease caused by this Phytophthora species in native oak trees in Britain.

The pathogen, is related to Phytophthora ramorum, known in the USA as Sudden Oak Death because of the widespread blight it has caused on American oak species. However, until now, native British oaks have proved to be resistant to both pathogens. Since the first discovery of P. ramorum in Britain early in 2002, neither laboratory tests nor painstaking surveys of more than 1500 woodland and forest sites across Britain have established any susceptibility of native oak trees to the deadly fungus.

Although P. ramorum is known to exist in more than a dozen countries throughout Europe, the new Phytophthora is so far thought to be specific to Britain. A major concern is that laboratory tests and observations in the wild indicate that it is more aggressive, and much faster spreading, than P. ramorum. Rhododendron, the main host and source of infection, succumbs in just a few weeks, rather than months.

Diseased Oak
This latest discovery raises fears over the pathogen’s potential impact on Britain’s 200 million oak trees, as well as other native tree species that may now prove to be susceptible.

The Forestry Commission’s Head of Plant Health, Roddie Burgess, said:”Our hope was that P. ramorum, and this more virulent pathogen, would not spread to native species. This new evidence indicates that this is not the case. We need to ensure that the precautions we take to identify and control the spread of this disease are commensurate with this significantly more serious threat.

If anyone suspects the presence of the disease on plants they should contact their local Defra or SEERAD office. If the disease is suspected on trees the contact should be the Forestry Commission. Further information on the two phytophthora is available on the Forestry Commission and Defra websites – and


High Hedge Disputes
11th Jun 08
High Hedge Disputes: The Current Position

Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, which gives local authorities powers to deal with complaints about high hedges came into operation in England on 1 June 2005.


From 1 June 2005, provided they have tried and exhausted all other avenues for resolving their hedge dispute, people will be able to take their complaint about a neighbour’s evergreen hedge to their local authority – your district or borough Council.

The role of the local authority is not to mediate or negotiate between the complainant and the hedge owner but to adjudicate on whether – in the words of the Act – the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of their property. In doing so, the authority must take account of all relevant factors and must strike a balance between the competing interests of the complainant and hedge owner, as well as the interests of the wider community.

If they consider the circumstances justify it, the local authority will issue a formal notice to the hedge owner which will set out what they must do to the hedge to remedy the problem, and when by. Failure to carry out the works required by the authority is an offence which, on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

You can contact ODPM (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) about high hedge matters at

The Facts:

1. The legislation does not require all hedges to be cut down to a height of 2 metres

2. You do not have to get permission to grow a hedge above 2 metres

3. When a hedge grows over 2 metres the local authority does not automatically take action, unless a justifiable complaint is made

4. If you complain to your local authority, it does not follow automatically that they will order your neighbour to reduce the height of their hedge. They have to weigh up all the issues and consider each case on its merits

5. The legislation does not cover single or deciduous trees

6. The local authority cannot require the hedge to be removed

7. The legislation does not guarantee access to uninterrupted light

8. There is no provision to serve an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) in respect of high hedge complaints.


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