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Sweet Chestnut Blight found in East London

The Chief Plant Health Officer has confirmed that Sweet chestnut blight has been found in East London.

Action is being taken to identify and control the disease in line with the Government’s plant disease contingency plans. The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Forestry Commission are carrying out extensive surveillance of sweet chestnut trees in the area, working closely with local stakeholders. Further action will be taken on the basis of surveillance information and the best available scientific evidence.

Anyone who has sweet chestnut trees in their garden or on their land, or who works with the trees, should check them for signs of the disease. Any suspected symptoms must be reported, preferably using the Forestry Commission’s Tree Alert disease reporting tool.

The symptoms factsheet and Pest Alert, available from the Forestry Commission, include pictures of the symptoms to look for.

Chestnut blight does not pose any risk to people, pets or livestock, and is only known to seriously affect sweet chestnut (Castanea) species. It does not affect horse chestnut (Aesculus) species.

Good biosecurity is vital to reducing disease spread - anyone visiting or working in woodland should take care not to remove twigs, leaves and branches to avoid spreading the pest further. They should also clean their footwear, tools and machinery before moving locations.

Businesses or woodland owners needing further information may contact the Forestry Commission’s South East England Area Office by email southeast.fce@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or by telephone 0300 067 4420. News media enquirers should contact the Forestry Commission press office by email media@forestry.gsi.gov.uk.

Suspected infections in plants moving in trade should be reported to APHA’s Plant Health & Seeds Inspectorate by telephone 01904 405138 or by email planthealth.info@apha.gsi.gov.uk.

In 2013, the UK introduced special requirements that importers must notify the plant health services of pending imports of sweet chestnut plants before their arrival to enable inspection. The UK is also a Protected Zone for C. parasitica, meaning that movements of sweet chestnut plants into the UK must comply with additional requirements, and are accompanied by specific plant passports eligible for the zone and confirming that they are disease free.