A £2 million programme is underway to fell trees on the side of motorways to stop an aggressive disease in its tracks

National Highways says there is major outbreak' of ash dieback disease in the North West. 

Ash dieback affects shoots, branches and trunk base, causing canopy decline and the death of most affected trees. 

The programme will tackle the problem over the next four months at dozens of locations along the M6, A590, A56, M56, M66, M58, M60 and M61. 

For more information on the works on the nearby M61, see our story about it here: https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/23959787.bolton-m61-trees-felled-due-ash-dieback-fungus/ 

Dead and dying trees will be removed to make areas safe, and contractors will also carry out general environmental management and plant new trees. 

The agency aim to finish the works ahead of spring and bird nesting season.

National Highways Environmental Manager Chloe O’Hare said: “Ash dieback has started to affect trees on our land. We have been monitoring its spread where symptoms have become more severe and are making every effort to minimise its impact. 

"We want to do everything we can to preserve the biodiversity of our soft estate, but at the same time, we need to make sure everybody using our land, on or off road, is safe.

“We want to prolong tree life through careful management. This includes pruning, removing branches, reducing the size of trees and thinning out smaller trees to allow others the space to grow. 

"We will only remove ash trees if we must - when an affected tree is a safety hazard because it's either dying or already dead. Where we can, we'll replace trees to reduce the impact of the disease on the environment." 

She added: "In areas identified for replanting, we will be adding a broader range of native tree species for increased resilience.” 

Keep up to date with roads affected here: https://nationalhighways.co.uk/our-roads/north-west/ash-dieback-in-the-north-west/ 

Ivan Le Fevre, Head of Environment Strategy for National Highways, said:

“We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and are one of the largest tree planting organisations in the UK, with plans to plant an extra three million trees by 2030. 

“We only cut back or fell trees where it is essential to keep people safe, protect the environment or where it is necessary to allow us to deliver schemes that improve journeys.

“Along areas of our network in the North West, in common with other parts of the UK, the severity of ash dieback has been increasing. Trees pose a safety risk, which means the management of trees is necessary to protect the landscape and all those who use our network.”


Barnaby Wylder, Plant Health Forestry Area Lead NW for the Forestry Commission, said: “Ash dieback has been present in North West England for more than a decade and although symptoms are now widespread, there are still many more living ash trees than dead.   

“The fungus affects trees at different rates depending on their age, site conditions and the individual tree’s genetics.

"Fortunately, a small number of trees appear to be tolerant to the fungus and will hopefully eventually provide healthy ash trees for future generations to enjoy.”