Save our trees, our countryside

An elm tree as they used to be

An elm tree as they used to be

I am old enough to remember when our countryside was graced with innumerable elm trees — unmistakable as they stood against the sky.  They were celebrated in art and in poetry (“The buzzing of innumerable bees in immemorial elms”).

Then came Dutch Elm Disease. This first arrived in the UK as early as 1927 (and even I don’t remember that).  But a much more virulent strain arrived in 1967, which virtually wiped out the species, and destroyed a much-loved and characteristic feature of the English landscape.  There is a possibility that new resistant strains of elm will be developed that may, after many decades, replace those lost.  But I shall not live to see the day.

And if it were only elms.  Now we also have Sudden Oak Death.  And Ash Die-Back disease.  Where will it end?

These are fungal diseases carried by insects, and are very difficult to prevent or cure.  Oddly enough, however, there is a British company in my East Midlands region which claims to have an effective remedy.  The company is called Armillatox, based in Derbyshire.  Now I am no expert on the diseases of trees, and I can’t comment on the effectiveness or technical aspects of the product.  But I understand from the company that their product is effective against fungal diseases of trees, and is successfully sold for that purpose in many countries outside the EU, including the USA and Australia.

But in the EU — guess what — there’s a problem.  It’s not that the Armillatox product is banned.  It’s simpler — and sadder — than that.  It’s simply that the EU requirements for authorising pesticide products is so stringent and complex that it’s estimated to cost £3 million to do the necessary work — beyond the resources of a small company.

I’m constantly banging on about excessive, onerous and expensive EU regulation.  Here is a perfect example.  Not only are EU rules standing in the way of a medium-sized enterprise developing its European business, but they are denying our trees, our foresters, our countryside a remedy which could potentially stop or slow the progress of these serious tree diseases.

I have previously written to minsters drawing attention to this problem, but I have had no satisfactory response.  Clearly the hassle of challenging oppressive EU rules is too much for them, even when the very survival of our oaks and ashes is at stake.  I should like my grandchildren to grow up knowing the oak and the ash, but it seems they may not.

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10 Responses to Save our trees, our countryside

  1. J MACGREGOR says:

    IF OUR BORDERS WERE AS TIGHT AS IN NEW ZEALAND , & austrialia , we then maybe able to keep out the new tree problems ?? but as we cant even keep out imigrants i think we are doomed SO WORRIE ON .


    • Rich Tee says:

      I’m tempted to say here that insects have no respect for national borders, but actually, since we are an island, there may be some truth in what you say.

      Insects don’t travel very far over water, do they? So the main method they get into Britain is hiding in cargo and on people’s clothes.

      • Rich Tee says:

        Actually, having just looked into it, apparently they can be carried long distances by prevailing winds.

  2. ianhillsatsparklingsites says:

    I did hear that one of the Nuremberg laws specified certain purity standards for oak trees, and that this had made its way into EU law, which now frowns on oak hybridisation – which would keep our oaks in a healthier condition, and more able to fight disease.

  3. smallartuk says:

    It is sheer lunacy; not to be able to use a product in our own country that’s actually made here. Crazy crazy crazy…..information like this should be spread around the Net as widely as possible, in the hope that some stink can be stirred up. And they say British people want to stay in the EU…..????

  4. Al says:

    Small firms like this just get bought out by one of the giant chemical firms that helped lobby the EU to introduce these regulations. That was the whole point, to reduce their competition.
    No body wins except the regulators and the guys at the top of the multinationals.

    • ianhillsatsparklingsites says:

      How odd that Caroline Lucas, when she was a Green Party MEP, supported the REACH directive which imposed punitive testing costs on chemical firms. Didn’t she know that the thousands of commercial lobbyists who work in Brussels were only pushing it to drive their clients’ small competitors out of business? She said the directive would be good for the environment…heh.

  5. In afraid that in or out of the EU, the cost of pesticide registration is VERY onerous, always has always will be.
    But Brussels is planning to change the regs to eliminate more pesticides from the approved list because it can’t be proved that they aren’t endocrine disrupters. These triazole fungicides are not replaceable, and so all eu farmers will be at a further disadvantage to the rest of the world who are perfectly happy with triazole fungicides…..

  6. Pingback: Climate Policy and the Club du Bois | Roger Helmer MEP

  7. daviesthetrees says:

    Whilst the EU regulations (Directive 91/414) appear to be designed to protect the environment from cumulative chemicals, the perverse outcome is that totally bio-degradeable materials such as “Armillatox” become outcast in favour of mostly chlorinated and residual products. Chlorine belongs in the sea not on the land or in the food chain, organochlorines are persistent and harmful. Common sense is required before we all lose our neural synapses to pesticide pollution and the cosy relationship between the polluters and the powers that be.

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