A deadly disease which threatens to wipe out thousands of the UK’s ash trees has been confirmed in Derbyshire.
The Forestry Commission has revealed that a newly-planted tree in the car park of the Tesco Extra store in Clay Cross is riddled with ash dieback.
Another young tree in Ashbourne was found to be infected.
These are the first confirmed cases of the devastating fungal disease in the county.
The plants will remain on site as inspectors assess the level of risk they pose to other ash trees in the wider environment before deciding on the best course of action.
Charlton Clark, of the Forestry Commission, said: “It is presumed the trees were infected before they were planted.
“In the meantime they pose a low risk because the Chalara fraxinea fungus – which causes ash dieback – is mostly spread from infected fallen autumn leaves to healthy trees the following summer,” he added.
A spokesman for Tesco said that in the Clay Cross case the company will work with experts and follow their guidance on what to do next.
Paul Reeves, of the Environment Agency, said he was “sad” to learn that ash dieback had been confirmed in Derbyshire
The disease causes ash trees to gradually wither and die.
It does not pose a risk to human or animal health.
The disease has killed 90 per cent of ash trees in Denmark and is widespread throughout central Europe.
It was first confirmed as being present in the UK in March 2012.
Experts fear the disease has the potential to wipe out the country’s entire ash tree population.
The Government is working with a number of bodies in a desperate bid to manage the disease.
The Forestry Commission has urged residents to report any suspected new cases of ash dieback by logging on to its website at www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara.