A SECOND case of ash dieback disease has been identified in Northumberland, the Forestry Commission disclosed yesterday.
The disease was found on a tree near Shilbottle, south of Alnwick, and at first labelled as a major “wider environment” red alert, which is contagious and can be spread.
But last night a Forestry Commission spokesman said the case had been downgraded to a lower-level non-contagious yellow alert on a recently-planted site.
Details of the exact location were being kept under wraps while further investigations were carried out.
A “red dot” alert on the Forestry Commission case map means it can be contagious in the open landscape.
But the spokesman said: “The new Northumberland case of ash dieback was wrongly marked as a ‘wider environment’ case.
“The map is now being corrected to a ‘yellow dot’ recently-planted site, which is less serious. We are unable to release details of exactly where the new case has been located.”
County councillor Trevor Thorne, whose ward covers the area, said: “This would be a worry because we do have a lot of ash trees in this area.
“This is a nicely-wooded part of Northumberland and I would hate us to get this problem on a wide scale.”
Three months ago Northumberland’s first “red alert” case of chalara dieback of ash – caused by the chalara fraxinea fungus – was discovered at Wooler, in north Northumberland.
It was close to the edge of Northumberland National Park and led to a full-scale alert, with a team of National Park officers sweeping a six-mile radius before delivering the all-clear.
Nationally, the disease has been concentrated almost exclusively on the eastern side of the country, cementing the theory that the disease is carried on the wind from mainland Europe.
The number of cases nationwide has risen from 291 to 369 in the past month.
The first North East identification came near Newcastle Airport, where a non-contagious site was identified in early November. Cases at Seaham and Newton Aycliffe in County Durham have also been found.