An independent review of support for farmers affected by ash dieback has emphasized that the tree disease should be treated as a national emergency. The review, commissioned by Minister of State for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett, called for a state-led national response to ash dieback, including the establishment of a task force led by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. This task force would coordinate the clearance of diseased plantations and the re-establishment of new ones. The review also suggested re-examining communications from the European Commission on state aid to provide support for affected landowners. It recommended a once-off payment to recognize the absence of an effective scheme between 2018 and 2023. The review also called for a simplified approval process for site clearance and for the cost of clearance and regeneration to be borne by the state. It emphasized the need for more intensive and regular maintenance for re-established ash plantations and highlighted the importance of communicating the eligibility of plantation owners for available schemes in the new Forestry Programme. Other recommendations included using ash dieback as an opportunity to plan for future disease risks, developing a partnership approach to forestry on private land, and upgrading the forest service with a strong customer focus. Minister Hackett stated that she is working with her officials to implement the recommendations and will publish a full implementation plan once the assessment is complete. She urged affected landowners to apply to the reconstitution scheme for site clearance and assured that any changes resulting from the review process will not disadvantage forest owners who have already availed of the scheme.
Racing Against Time: Urgent Action Required to Combat Ash Dieback, Declares Review
"Independent Review Calls for Urgent National Response to Ash Dieback Crisis"