Village fears tree at its heart will die

A village named after a tree fears its ash will fall victim to a deadly disease spreading across Europe.

Villagers in Barkston Ash, near Tadcaster, are worried they might lose the tree to Chalara ash dieback, which has been confirmed at a number of sites in the UK.

It would be the second time the village has lost its namesake tree, which is believed to mark the centre of Yorkshire.

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The original 140-year-old ash had to be felled about 14 years ago after it began to die and became a health and safety hazard. The present tree was planted a short time later and is represented around the village, which has road names and a pub featuring the famous ash.

The Chalara fraxinea fungus, which causes leaf loss and crown dieback and can lead to tree death, has wiped out 90 per cent of ash trees in some parts of Denmark and is becoming widespread throughout central Europe. Last week it was disclosed there were 120 confirmed sites of the disease had been found in the UK.

Jonathan Hirst, chairman of Barkston Ash Parish Council, said they would discuss the tree at a meeting this week.

Mr Hirst said: “Barkston Ash is created around the ash tree so it would be a real shame if there would be something to happen to it.

“It could be a real problem.

“Barkston is one of the centres of the original Yorkshire so I think there’s some historical significance to the tree.

“It’s the heart of the village, the roots of the village.”