Senator Paul Daly.

Ash dieback: evaluation of every roadside tree needed

Financial supports need to be put in place to encourage landowners to cut down roadside trees infected by ash dieback, according to Senator Paul Daly, who raised the issue in the Upper House, days after Storm Debi felled hundreds of trees across the country.

Senator Daly said: “We are fortunate we had no fatalities on our roads in Storm Debi. In my own area, a lot of trees and branches came down as a result of trees having died from ash dieback. There are thousands of such trees in our roadside hedges. While I have raised this issue on numerous occasions under the forestry brief in my role as agriculture spokesperson, and while we have had discussions on it, this is an aspect of the ash dieback issue we need a debate on.”

Senator Daly said that while the departments of agriculture and transport should be involved in any initiative, local authorities should take the lead.

“There is no point in all of us coming in here the morning after a storm when there has been a fatality. I want to bring this issue to the fore immediately. Let us get the issue resolved.

“When affected trees die, they crumble. Even professionals say that cutting down such trees is an issue. They have grabs to put around trees and, if the tree has gone bad enough, they squeeze the tree and turn it to pulp, which then falls in the opposite direction from where the professionals had intended.

“It is not a thing that farmers or landowners can do themselves. There needs to be an evaluation of every roadside tree. This would probably be organised by the local authorities. There also needs to be some kind of grant aid or financial support for landowners to remove trees because, if there is not, they will not do it.

“As I have said, I do not want to be the one standing up the morning after our next storm if we have not done something about this and there has been a fatality and neither does anyone else here.”