FURTHER works are underway in Carmarthenshire to remove trees affected by ash dieback disease which are a risk to road users.

Felling works are being carried out in the Gwendraeth and Amman Valley areas of the county throughout August.

Trees on council owned land which are showing at least 50 per cent dieback in their crowns are being removed as they are at risk of falling on the highway.

Traffic management will be in place whilst the works are carried out which may cause some disruption for road users.

Works are being carried out at the following locations (dates are approximate and subject to change):

•A4765 Cwmforgan – August 3

•B4556 Penygroes to Blaenau ¬ August 4

•A474 Ammanford to Glanaman – August 5 & 6

•A476 opposite layby Carmel – August 10

•B4310 National Botanic Garden of Wales – August 10

•A4068 Brynamman to Cwmllynfell – August 11 & 12

•B4556 Blaenau to Llandybie – August 17

•B4300 east of Llanarthney – August 19 & 20

•A476 Llannon – August 23 & 26

Ash dieback is a fungal disease, it spreads from the leaves through to the branches, causing the tree to die. Dead branches and entire dead trees can become very brittle and fall, posing a serious risk to the public.

The removal of trees with ash dieback is a dangerous and specialised job and the council are employing qualified and experienced tree surgeons to complete this work.

Highway inspectors are continuing to carry out surveys along A and B roads across the county to identify affected trees over the summer. All trees showing at least 50% dieback are tagged with orange ribbon or marked with orange spray paint for follow-up action, whether they are the responsibility of the council or a private landowner.

The majority of diseased ash trees adjacent to the highway are privately owned. The council is working with landowners, making them aware of their responsibility to remove any trees in their ownership which pose a risk to the public.

To date, the council has removed 520 diseased ash trees from council land alongside A and B roads across Carmarthenshire in the interest of public safety.

Executive Board Member for the Environment Cllr Hazel Evans said: “The council has a legal duty under the Highways Act to keep our roads safe for users and ash dieback is a serious issue for both the council and landowners. Unfortunately, we have no choice but to remove diseased trees if they are in a location which poses a risk to public safety. We will try to minimise the disruption to road users as much as possible.

“We are also urging landowners to carry out their own surveys if they have any ash trees alongside the highway. During the summer months when trees are in full leaf is the best time to do this as it is easier to recognise signs of the disease. Please visit the council’s website for further information and advice.”

Ash dieback affects the leaves of ash trees causing them to blacken, wilt and die from around September onwards. Bare and dying branches, which is evidence of dieback in the crown of the tree are easy to see.

Biodiversity is a key priority for the council and where mature trees are removed, bat boxes are installed on adjacent healthy trees to help mitigate against the loss of potential habitat. A tree planting programme is also underway.

Executive Board Member for Biodiversity Cllr Philip Hughes added: “It is thought around 95% of ash trees could be affected by ash dieback disease and this will have a big impact in the landscape.

“To make up for this loss, we are identifying opportunities for planting trees and new woodlands which will also bring additional benefits such as new wildlife habitats and carbon-sequestration which may help to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“Where we do have to remove diseased trees, we are doing all we can to mitigate the effect on wildlife, for example, putting up bat boxes in healthy trees to provide new roost sites.”

For further information on ash dieback disease please visit the council website carmarthenshire.gov.wales/ashdieback