A combine harvests a cereal crop

Ash Dieback advice

Natural England advises Environmental Stewardship agreement holders and SSSI owners on ash dieback – PLC reports yesterday.

Over the next week, Natural England will contact those with Environmental Stewardship agreements and owners of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) with advice on how to:

  • Assist in tackling ash dieback.
  • Protect grant payments if the disease is found in young trees planted under an Environmental Stewardship Scheme (ES Scheme).

ES Schemes are administered by Natural England (on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).  ES Schemes provide funds to farmers and land managers in England to deliver effective environmental land management.

Ash saplings planted or managed under an ES Scheme may require removal.  Under standard ES Scheme rules, removing trees covered by an ES Scheme agreement could result in Natural England recovering grant payments.  Natural England will try to protect grant payments under the ES Scheme’s force majeure terms.

To apply for this protection, any ES Scheme agreement holder who receives a formal notification of the presence of the disease on their land should notify Natural England in writing within 10 working days.  This protection will not apply to trees planted after 30 October 2012 (which is the date on which legislation preventing the movement of ash seeds and plants came into force).

Normal procedures will remain in place for works on a SSSI requiring consent from Natural England or the Forestry Commission.  Existing consents and licences remain valid unless advised otherwise by Natural England or the Forestry Commission.