New Plant Health Order (2017) – Sweet chestnut blight

A new piece of legislation Рentitled Plant Health (Sweet Chestnut Blight) (England) Order 2017 Рcame into force on 21st February 2017, which relates to the plant pathogen known as sweet chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica).

Fungal fruiting bodies surrounding a severe canker (left) and a discernible canker developing on a young stem (right). Source: Forestry Commission.

Applying specifically to England, this Order allows for plant health inspectors (typically of the Forestry Commission) to serve a formal Notice on a site deemed (following official confirmation) to be host to the pathogen (“infested area”) and to identify and serve notices upn surrounding land parcels within the “controlled area” (section 3). In such infested sites that have a Notice served upon them, as detailed in section 4, no movement of Castanea sativa or Quercus spp. can take place within or out of such infested areas without the express permission of a plant health inspector – by a similar nature, susceptible Castanea sativa material cannot be moved within our out from the controlled area. However, such materials can pass through the area(s), assuming the materials do not stop within the area (i.e. the materials are not stored within the area and instead road networks within the area are used to transport the materials further afield). Currently, two demarcated zones exist – both in Devon (here and here).

In addition to detailing the powers provided to the plant health inspector and the categorisation of offences committed under the Order (sections 5 and 6), the Order also refers to – in section 7 – the necessity of a review of the Order. Indeed, the first principal report of sweet chestnut blight must be made by 21st February 2022, and reviews must be more routine occurrences that ensure the Order remains contextual and relevant to the situation relating to sweet chestnut blight’s extent in England.

More information can be found on the Forestry Commission’s web page for sweet chestnut blight – see here.

New Plant Health Order (2017) – Sweet chestnut blight