HC Deb 24 June 2002 vol 387 c651W
Mr. Lidington

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to guard against the risk of sudden oak death in the United Kingdom. [61602]

Margaret Beckett

[holding answer 19 June 2002]: "Phytophthora ramorum"—the causative organism of sudden oak death—is not established in the United Kingdom, but has recently been detected on plants of viburnum and rhododendron in a targeted survey by the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate. Research is in progress to establish whether the "Phytophthora ramorum" found in the United Kingdom exhibits the same pathogenicity as that causing such serious damage in the USA and whether European tree species are susceptible to either the European or North American isolates. This work is being carried out by the Central Science Laboratory and the Forestry Commission Research Agency.

Possible Community-wide measures are being considered and there has already been an exchange of information and some additional survey work by member states. In the meantime, on the basis of a pest risk assessment, precautionary measures have been introduced to prevent susceptible material being imported into the United Kingdom from affected areas of the USA and to allow plant health inspectors to track commercial movements of host plants of any origin. Current controls on imported oak wood from the USA are also being extended to include wood derived from all host trees originating in affected areas. Further information is available on the Forestry Commission and DEFRA websites at http://forestry.gov.uk/planthealth and http:// defraweb/planth/ph.htm

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