A FURTHER case of a devastating tree disease has been found in Essex, the Government confirmed on Monday.

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The discovery, together with several in Kent, are the first cases found in the wild outside Norfolk and Suffolk.

It means Chalara dieback has now been confirmed in ash trees in 14 nurseries, 36 planting sites and 32 forests and woodlands in the UK.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) officials insist confirmation of chalara fraxinea fungus in Essex does not mean the disease has spread since the first case was detected at Pound Farm in Great Glemham, near Saxmundham, a fortnight ago.

It is believed the disease in East Anglia may have been present for a number of years and its fungal spores are likely to have been blown on winds from mainland Europe.

According to the Forestry Commission there are at least eight sites in Suffolk where the disease has been confirmed as being present.

Neither the commission nor Defra could last night confirm where in Essex the new case has been discovered.

It came as one of the UK’s biggest tree growers – Crowders Nurseries in Horncastle, Lincolnshire – said it would seek damages from the Government over delays in the handling of the disease which led to the loss of tens of thousands of stock trees. Managing director Simon Ellis said 50,000 ash trees had been destroyed after the business was hit by the dieback.

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