HUNDREDS of trees across Brighton and Hove will be cut down as a "devastating" disease gives the city council "no alternative".

A disease that could wipe out thousands of trees throughout the city is forcing Brighton and Hove City Council to remove them before they "collapse or fall down".

Tress riddled with the fungal infection Ash dieback (ADB) will be chopped, as they could cause serious damage to people and property if left alone, the council warned.

Around 20 per cent of all woodland trees owned by the council are ash, and so, they will be cut down to protect wildlife and people in a situation "never" been faced before.

Councillor Amy Heley, chair of the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said there is "no alternative".

She said: “We know it will mean a great deal of distress and upset for our residents, but our tree experts, along with other specialists, will try to ensure the effects are kept to an absolute minimum, especially when it comes to the natural habitats of our wildlife.”

"Sadly we have no alternative but to remove a very large number of our ash trees, starting with the ones within striking distance of roads, footpaths and property to ensure public safety.

"Some ash trees are tolerant or resistant to ADB and will be retained where possible to help re-stock our woodlands with native ash trees.

"Tree tops will be left on site mostly as a means to feed nutrients back into the cycle within woodland settings and to avoid suppressing ground flora with layers of wood chip.

"It is also extremely costly to remove felled trees from woodland.

"Although this will often result in untidy looking sites, there are benefits in the longer term."

The city council is also seeing a rise in Elm disease amongst trees, but they say this can be contained, unlike the "devastating" Ash dieback.

The Argus has been told that the surviving Preston Twin tree is not on the list of those to be cut down, as it is an Elm tree.

In 2019, one of the Preston Park Twins was cut down due to deadly Dutch Elm Disease.

Across the country, there are 125 million ash trees in woodlands and between 27-60 million ash trees outside of woodlands.

The symptoms first become visible during early June when the leaves are first emerging.

These show themselves as wilting, and dark discolouration on the leaves with elongated lesions developing on the smaller branches.

Eventually, the whole crown will become infected with a characteristic ‘crown die-back’ developing over the next few years.

The disease spreads via spores caught in the wind from tiny mushrooms born from the main leaf stalk and has the ability to spread over a ten miles radius within one year.

Over longer distances, the risk of disease spread is most likely to be through the movement of diseased ash plants and foliage.

Until the work is completed, the council said it will not be issuing any new licenses for Forest Schools.

The first two sites where work has begun are Coney Hill Woods, next to Mill Road near Waterhall, and Coldean Lane.