HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 cc148-9W
Mr. Caton

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the threat to British woodlands posed by the fungus phytophthora ramorum. [155227]

Mr. Bradshaw

A Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) for Phytophthora ramorum was first conducted in the UK by Forest Research in September 2000.

The PRA has undergone a number of revisions and is currently under further review and will take account of the recent findings of the organism on ten trees of six species in Great Britain. Copies of the most recent revision were placed in the Library of the House on 13 February 2003 and updates have since been placed on the Defra website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/planth/pra.htm.

The Forestry Commission is currently undertaking a survey of around 1,000 woodland sites across Great Britain in order to help determine whether the disease is present in our woodland environment. This survey, which is due to be completed by April, will help us better determine the threat to Britain's trees.

Mr. Paterson

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the Department handles plants or trees affected with sudden oak death. [149618]

Mr. Bradshaw

All ornamental shrubs found to be infected with "Phytophthora ramorum" are destroyed either by burning or deep burial.

For infected trees there are two options: either the destruction of the whole tree by burning or deep burial, or the debarking and disinfection of the trunk and main branches which can then be removed and processed. The removed bark, all other branches and debris such as leaves and soil litter are similarly destroyed by burning or deep burial.