Scotland politics

Ash dieback disease: Eleven sites in Scotland confirmed

The number of sites in Scotland affected by the ash dieback tree fungal disease has increased to 11.

First Minister Alex Salmond announced the figure during question time at the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Salmond said the sites in question had shown "confirmed signs of the disease" and that work was under way to try to mitigate its impact.

The disease is threatening to devastate Britain's 80 million ash tree population.

Mr Salmond confirmed the number after being asked about the Scottish picture by SNP Aberdeen South and North Kincardine MSP Maureen Watt.

The first minister told the parliament: "Ash dieback has been detected at some sites in Scotland. Over the weekend and at the start of this week Forestry Commission officials worked around the clock, completing a rapid survey to identify potential distribution of the disease in Scotland.

"As of this morning, there were 11 sites in Scotland with confirmed signs of the disease.

"Because infection from ash dieback is seasonal, we have a window of opportunity to further develop our plans to mitigate its impact and the Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, will convene a summit of key stakeholders this coming Tuesday to take that stage and process forward."

Image caption A survey of ash trees has taken place in Scotland

In February the disease was found in a consignment of trees sent from a nursery in the Netherlands to a nursery in Buckinghamshire, England.

A UK-wide investigation is under way to trace the original source of the diseased trees.

The rapid survey carried out by the Forestry Commission in Scotland covered 80,000 sq km (49,709 miles).

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