HUNDREDS of trees have been lost across Brighton and Hove to a fungal disease known as ash dieback.

Next week councillors are being asked to adopt an ash dieback action plan and to review a draft tree planting plan to replace and extend tree cover across Brighton and Hove.

It follows the felling of hundreds of ash trees in Stanmer Park and Withdean Park after the disease left them “fragile and dangerous”.

Proposals for tackling the problems have been included in a report to Brighton and Hove City Council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee.

The report said that the council employed a full-time ash dieback co-ordinator last November to identify where the disease was taking hold and to arrange replanting.

It said: “The council will be removing trees which may look healthy to the public and some residents may be concerned by the works but all trees have been surveyed by a professional arboriculturist.

“The disease is not only affecting ash trees in Brighton and Hove but also killing ash throughout the country, with the worst affected areas being in the south east where major works have already taken place, removing hundreds of thousands of trees.

“This approach allows the council to effectively manage the risk to public safety posed by diseased ash trees across the city via a programme of large-scale tree felling.

“It also ensures the regeneration of council-owned woodlands and areas with ash trees affected by the disease via an extensive replanting and ongoing maintenance programme to improve tree species diversity, resilience and general biodiversity.”

Officials have proposed one-off funding of £600,000 to help deal with the problem.

The Argus: Withdean Park in Brighton will see many of its ash trees removedWithdean Park in Brighton will see many of its ash trees removed

The council has also been tackling elm disease. Over the past six years, Brighton and Hove has lost an average of 189 elms a year. The worst year was 2020, with 496 elms felled.

A draft tree planting plan going before the committee should diversify Brighton and Hove’s woodlands and increase the tree canopy, the report said.

The plan would be funded with £1 million from the council’s “carbon neutral fund” and £230,000 from a government agency known as the Forestry Commission.

In 2021-22, the council planted 425 trees and 2,530 whips – or slender shoots.

The report said: “The council intends to maintain this level of new tree planting annually as a minimum but, as more land is identified for woodland planting, the numbers of trees planted could greatly exceed this.

“Over and above this, we will be replanting where we have lost trees to ash dieback disease.

“It should be noted that as new tree planting increases, resources are needed to care for them and ensure they thrive. This will need to be factored in future resource allocation.”

The environment, transport and sustainability committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall at 4pm on Tuesday. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council website.