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O'Neill and McEntee agree common position on ash wood imports

Following a meeting today in Armagh, Minister Michelle O'Neill, MLA and Minister of State Shane McEntee, TD agreed to introduce further restrictions on the importation of ash into Ireland.

Commenting on recent reports about the disease in England and continental Europe, Michelle O’Neill MLA said "The threat of further ash dieback reaching our shores is so serious that Minister McEntee and I have agreed to bring in additional measures to prevent imports of infected ash timber and firewood". Minister McEntee said "The scientific advice is that the movement of ash timber is a possible pathway of infection, but of lower risk than for plants, which we both banned last week.  Even though the risk is lower, the consequences for the island of Chalara infection mean that we have to take any this disease threat seriously and act in the best interests of the forestry sector".

The Ministers discussed their recent meetings with stakeholders who regularly import ash wood. In view of the information gathered at these meetings, the Ministers said, "We believe that the threat from the disease is serious and we need to further strengthen the legislation by bringing wood within the scope of the controls. We believe that we have the full support of the forestry sector and related industries in this regard". They concluded "Officials from North and South will work over the weekend drafting further legislation to provide a proportionate response to the threat. We have agreed that an absolute ban on ash wood imports is impracticable, but we believe that there are treatments of wood that will permit certain imports to continue and that will effectively reduce the Chalara risk substantially".

Notes to Editors

  1. Chalara fraxinea is a serious disease which has caused the death of many ash trees and other European countries.  Legislation was introduced North and South on Friday 26th October banning the importation and movement of ash plants for planting from infected areas.
  2. When the new legislation comes into place, importers will be required to demonstrate that wood is free from infection by showing that it comes from an area known to be free from disease, or has been treated to remove or kill any disease present by removing the rounded surface, or has been dried to less than 20% moisture content.

Date Released: 02 November 2012