Ash dieback - our approach

As well as our road network, we're responsible for 30,000 hectares of land. This 'soft estate' includes all the verges, embankments, cuttings and landscaping plots alongside our roads.

This land supports a rich diversity of animal and plant life, including ash, which is one of our most useful and versatile native trees.

What is ash dieback?

Ash dieback is a highly destructive fungal tree disease that causes leaf loss, dead branches and canopy decline.

It has spread to the UK from Europe aided by climate change. Mild, wet winters create ideal conditions for ash dieback. Trees stressed by droughts, flooding and high temperatures are also more vulnerable to disease.

There is currently no cure for ash dieback. Over time, it will infect most of our native ash trees, in turn affecting biodiversity and changing the character of our landscape.

ash dieback
Ash dieback. Photograph courtesy of Forestry Commission

Our approach

Ash dieback has started to affect trees on our land. We're monitoring its spread and making every effort to slow it down.

We want to do everything we can to preserve the biodiversity of our soft estate. At the same time, we need to make sure everybody using our land (on or off road ) is safe.

Wherever possible, we want to prolong tree life through careful management. This includes pruning, removing branches or reducing the size of trees.

We will only remove ash trees if we have to - when an affected tree is a safety hazard to people because it's either dying or dead.

Where we can, we'll replace trees to reduce the impact of the disease on the environment.

Our approach follows government guidelines: