Urgent work to tackle Elm Disease in the city taking priority

For the third summer in a row, we’re seeing very high levels of Elm Disease across the city.

Unfortunately, this means we’re having to delay less urgent tree work to focus on removing diseased elm trees to help prevent the further spread of infection and protect the city’s National Elm Collection.

This is likely to continue through to the end of September, when the spread of Elm Disease infections stop.

We’re very sorry for the delays this is causing to other tree work in the city. Please bear with us.

Substantial impact causing delays

As levels of Elm Disease are high for months at a time and diseased trees need to be dealt with as quickly as possible, the impact of an outbreak is substantial.

This summer, it means we’re having to postpone much of the other tree work we were planning.

Our arboriculture team is working alongside multiple teams from our contractors to provide the necessary reactive response to Elm Disease, alongside attending to high priority or urgent health and safety tree work.

We’re removing diseased elm trees across many sites in the city on streets, in parks, woodland and private residences.

This includes sites where the planning of the work is complex and time consuming, ranging from very large individual trees in land locked gardens to banked woodland areas and a sensitive, extensive cemetery site at Woodvale.

We apologise for the delays this is causing to less urgent tree work, such as pruning trees growing on to buildings, cutting low hanging branches, general street or park pruning to trees other than elms, and removing ‘whisker’ growth from bases of trees on streets.

This doesn’t affect the ongoing work to remove weed growth around trees obstructing pavements.

Tackling elm disease

Elms remain the dominant tree across the city, with an estimated growing population of more than 17,000. Our success has led to the city becoming the holder of the National Elm Collection.

Each summer, our arboriculture team faces a battle across the city against the tiny beetle which carries the deadly elm tree killing fungus known as Elm Disease (previously Dutch Elm Disease).

Losses of trees to the disease have been manageable over the years thanks to a council-led control campaign. However, the battle seems to be getting harder recently for a number of reasons.

One of the most likely ways for a tree to become infected is via beetles breeding on elm logs stored in the area.

These logs may have been brought in from other parts of Sussex where there has been a massive rise in trees becoming infected and subsequent logs becoming available.

In recent years, there has also been a rapid increase in the number of wood-burning stoves being sold in the area, increasing the risk of contaminated wood coming into the city.

How you can help…

We ask residents not to buy any logs for winter fuel if the supplier cannot guarantee that the wood isn't elm. We also ask you not bring any elm timber into the city for use as garden ornaments, seating or anything else.

Our arboriculture team offers a free inspection of firewood and other timber.

If the wood is elm, we will dispose of it and give you a similar quantity free of charge.

We also ask residents to let us know about any tree which has leaves turning from green to yellow or brown or has a scorched look in the spring, and report any dead trees.

If you’re concerned about an elm tree, please contact us by emailing elmdisease@brighton-hove.gov.uk.

Councillor Amy Heley, co-chair of the Environment, Transport & Sustainability committee, said: “It’s devastating to see Elm Disease having such an impact in the city again.

“Our arboriculturists are all experts in protecting Brighton & Hove’s elms and it’s vital that we act as quickly as we can to contain the spread of infection. If you’re concerned about an elm, do get in touch with the team to let them know.

“We’re really sorry this is causing delays to other tree work in the city. Please bear with us.”

Related news