Devon County Council will close the A369 north of Bickleigh on Sunday February 4 to remove 60 trees which will be cut down due to health and safety concerns.
The work will continue on Monday February 5, when the A3072 will be closed from Bickleigh to Northdown Road, near Cadbury, from 9:30am to 3:30pm. On Tuesday February 6 the A396 will be closed south of Bickleigh, from 9:30am to 3:30pm. Signed diversions will be in place.
The Council say that Ash dieback has infected several trees in the area and will need to be felled and will carry out the work on the behalf of private landowners.
Ash dieback, or Chalara has been responsible for the removal of 22 roadside trees, but it is estimated that 7,000 of its own trees may have to be removed in the coming years.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “The County Council is taking a carefully managed, proactive approach towards dealing with this issue. Public safety on the highway has to be the priority and we are balancing that with environmental considerations.
“Every effort will be made to keep the disruption caused by the road closures to a minimum but it’s essential this work is done in order to keep road users safe. It may well be that we will see more trees felled over time, as the disease develops, but it is still early days at the moment.”
Councillor Margaret Squires, Devon County Councillor for Creedy, Taw and Mid Exe added: “This area near Bickleigh was found to be a high risk area for Ash dieback and the trees being felled need to be removed sooner rather than later. We would urge all private landowners to take responsibility to ensure the safety of others by inspecting the condition of the canopy cover of their own trees when they are in leaf.”
Although Ash dieback is in its early stages in Devon, it is thought that the majority of Ash trees in the county will succumb to the disease, and the County Council will resume its tree inspections in the spring.
Devon County Council established the Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum two years ago to consider the long term approach to tackling the disease. It has been leading on it in partnership with organisations including the Arboricultural Association, Devon AONBs, Clinton Devon Estates, Country Landowners Association, Devon Hedge Group, Devon Wildlife Trust, Dartmoor National Park, East Devon District Council, Forestry Commission, Highways England, National Trust, National Farmers Union, Network Rail, North Devon Council, RSPB, The Tree Council, Torbay Council, Plymouth City Council, and Western Power Distribution.
The County Council will be carrying out further inspections on its public areas across Devon to gain a more detailed understanding of work that may be required in future. It will be using its regular inspections of trees along A-roads to continue to assess the extent of the problem.
Further surveys will be carried out to provide a detailed understanding of further work that may be required in future. Any trees found to be in an imminently dangerous condition would be removed within 24 hours, which may require an emergency road closure.