East Lothian Courier – 9 February 2023


I recall when Dutch Elm struck. Trees that had been around as long as I could remember, and most often there long before I was born, requiring to be cut down. Leaving gaps in many areas whether avenues or other sites that have never really been replaced. How could they given the years of growth required for those majestic specimens? There are areas where I can still visualize what once stood and it’s a sad loss. 

I was therefore concerned to hear about a disease afflicting another of our great trees, this time Ash. I put down a parliamentary question and was shocked at the answer. It stated that “Ash dieback” was a fungal disease first detected in Britain in 2012. It’s now present in every county in the country and mortality rates of up to 85% have been recorded in some plantations but it varies on site and with the age of the tree.  

It did suggest that the effect on landscapes would be gradual, and they were hoping that Ash trees with a natural tolerance would replace those lost. But replanting in areas will be required. So, it won’t be easy, quick, or cheap as the answer suggested a cost of £14.6 billion albeit over 100 years.  

A further question I asked about support for costs suggested that it was occupiers liability. Too bad if its your garden or for council budgets in parks and on country roads. The costs we can argue over, but the loss of these old trees will leave an irreplaceable gap in many gardens, forests and other sites.  

The big political story has been Trans prisoners which is something I’ve been writing about over past months. There’s a great deal of hypocrisy as the situation’s even worse south of the border where the number of physically male prisoners with rape or sex offence convictions in women’s prisons is even greater. But it shouldn’t happen and must stop. But the issue is wider that prisons. There must be jobs and spaces for women only and where those who simply self-ID as women are excluded.