HC Deb 29 March 1976 vol 908 cc343-4W
Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate his Department has of the number of dead or dying elm trees in England which may present a hazard to life and limb.

Mr. Denis Howell

The best estimate currently available is that contained in the report I have just received from the Tree Council, namely that within the next five years some 2 million dead or dying elm trees will need to be felled if they are not to present a hazard. Of these, it is likely that about 400,000 will be felled for commercial reasons and a further 500,000 should be felled in the interests of controlling Dutch elm disease. These figures are based on the assumption that elms in southern and central England will die of the disease at a slowly declining rate as the elm population at risk diminishes and that a fairly steady number of deaths will occur in the lightly affected areas. They also assume that of all the trees that have been dead for more than about a year, 75 per cent. of those in urban areas and 5 per cent. of those in rural areas—excluding woodlands—will be potentially dangerous owing to their situation.