Please note that all this information is now hosted on our Engagement Hub. We regularly update the Engagement Hub and here you’ll be able to sign up for specific updates related to our Ash Dieback work. You can find the Engagement Hub by clicking here.

Ash Dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is the most devastating tree disease since Dutch Elm disease killed 60 million elm trees in the UK during two epidemics in the 1920s and 1970s. 

The disease is spread by an airborne fungus. It attacks the vascular system of trees, killing young trees very quickly and more mature specimens over a longer period. 

Infected trees weaken over time posing a safety risk with branches or the tree itself falling onto footpaths, roads, and property. 

It is estimated that the disease will kill up to 90% of all ash trees in the UK over the next decade. There is currently no cure or method of control to prevent or protect against it, which means trees that have succumbed to Ash Dieback must be felled. 

Ash Dieback on Mid Sussex District Council land

It is estimated that 15% of our tree stock is ash, including trees within our parks, nature reserves, woodland, and green spaces.  

Working with the Forestry Commission, we are creating an ‘Ash Dieback Management Plan’ to ensure that diseased trees are safely removed. The removal of diseased trees is unavoidable.  

To minimise the damage caused by Ash Dieback, and to keep our much-valued green spaces attractive to us and local wildlife, we will be re-planting a number of new stems. Specific details about the re-planting will be available in due course.   

Planned work

Eastern Road Nature Reserve  

Work to safely remove diseased trees is due to begin on Monday 21 August and is estimated to take three weeks. Although the focus is very much on mitigating Ash Dieback, the work will also include the removal of other unsafe trees and any additional vegetation that has been directly affected where it is essential to do so.

Access to the nature reserve will still be available, but some areas will be cordoned off for health and safety reasons while our contractors remove the trees. Please follow all on-site signage and instructions during this time.  

Contractors will be accessing the site from the Eastern Road Entrance.


Friday 8 September: During the initial phase of the work our experts identified additional trees that are unsafe. Around 200 additional trees will be taken down with work continuing on Monday 11 September. Please continue to follow all on-site signage and instructions during this time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cure for Ash Dieback?

No. There is no cure or preventative treatment.  

Why do the trees need to be cut down?

The diseased trees are a safety risk. Branches of the tree itself could fall onto footpaths, roads, properties and members of the public. 

What will happen to the dead trees?

Some arisings will be left at the Nature Reserve, but the majority will be removed by our contractor where they will be disposed of safety.  

What communications are you putting in place to inform people?

There is a comprehensive communications plan in place. This includes information available on the Mid Sussex District Council website, letters to residents and organisations in the areas where our contractors are working, signage at access points, regular updates on our social media channels, and in the local newspapers. 

Are there any details about re-planting?

We are committed to re-planting new stems that will support regrowth and improved biodiversity at Eastern Road Nature Reserve. Due to the site’s previous use as a landfill site, it has been identified that there is currently poor soil quality which will need improving before re-planting can begin.

We will be importing new, nutrient rich soil to improve this and we will need to wait for this to bed down before we can begin re-planting. With this in mind, we will not be able to plant the saplings this year and the work will be scheduled in 2024 once we are satisfied that the re-planting will be successful. 

Is Eastern Road Nature Reserve the only are affected?

No. There will be other affected areas. We are currently working on our ‘Ash Dieback Management Plan to put an action plan in place to address the other areas on our land. This page will be updated when this is available.  

What about if I have ash trees on my land?

If the ash trees are on your private land it is your responsibility to maintain and look after your tree stock. West Sussex County Council has a programme to deal with ash trees next to public roads. 

Will this have an impact on wildlife?

Inevitably the loss of ash trees from our green spaces will impact wildlife through the loss of habitat and food. We will only be removing ash trees that are dying – this is unavoidable. The Forestry Commission have worked with us to identify opportunities for regrowth and improved biodiversity.  

Why are there still tree stumps across the Nature Reserve?

The tree stumps will not be removed. As they are not a tripping height, it is safe to leave them in place and beneficial for our wildlife. They provide unique habitats as standing deadwood, increasing biodiversity across the site.

Why were more trees felled at Eastern Road Nature Reserve?

Unfortunately, while our contracted arborists were removing the trees affected by Ash Dieback, approximately another 200 trees were identified to be unsafe due to soil quality and increased wind exposure. We appreciate that it is upsetting to see further trees removed but the safety of our community comes first, and as a result, the work was unavoidable. 

The tree felling has taken away lots of the natural beauty of the Nature Reserve – what are you doing about that?

The devastation across the UK due to Ash Dieback is devastating and it is estimated that the disease will kill up to 90% of all ash trees in the UK over the next decade. Ash Dieback caused significant devastation to Eastern Road Nature Reserve and we understand it is upsetting to see the area in its current state. We would like to ask visitors to keep to the paths so that the site has the opportunity to recover. We will also be installing fencing to ensure that the paths are clearly defined. There are plans in place to re-plant new native species once the soil quality has improved. Please see our FAQ about re-planting for further details.

Further information on ash dieback

Last updated: 23 October 2023