UKTC Archive

OPM - news UPDATE

Subject: OPM - news UPDATE
From: Howe, Ron
Date: Jul 04 2019 09:44:22
Hi all, sorry this is a bit long.

I want to update you on the latest OPM events in Mole Valley.

We are now seeing a massive epidemic in the north of the district and have 
triggered a major alert and increased the media coverage. We have sites 
around Bookham and Leatherhead Commons, Pachesham Park and the Leatherhead 
Golf Course where every Oak is colonised with very large nests numbering as 
many as 15 in each tree. Ashtead may well be the same.

We have lost the battle ... now the pest has a hold in the Green Belt around 
London and especially with the extent of Oak trees in Surrey they have 
expanded exponentially in the last year ... or someone missed it all! The FC 
are now advising people to call the local councils. The main question being 
asked is,

"What are the local authority doing about it?"

We have assessed the risk of peoples health being affected as low but are 
remaining guarded. We have told the Health Authority to put out guidance to 
doctors so that they can recognise the symptoms. The police have received 
calls so we have briefed them for the public to seek our advice. We have 
quickly created simple short guidance here:
http://www.molevalley.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=41072

We can only attempt nest removal at key sites and may have to return to 
spraying! Private owners have attempted to have nests removed by 
non-specialists and one family had their gardener removing them with no PPE. 
The whole family were badly affected. The gardener? We don't know. Sean 
Harrison, the Parks tree officer is being frequently exposed as he has been 
inspecting reports and, we are ordering in PPE and an industrial IV45 Type H 
Vacuum Cleaner, to clean his car out! He has been asked to stop visiting 
private sites now.

We have written a one page RISK ASSESSMENT for staff (planning officers etc.) 
carrying out site visits in the epidemic zone. The main assessment is that 
unless the nests are disturbed the threat is negligible, unless you are 
personally susceptible, anaphylactic, carry an epi-pen, or are frequently 
exposed. We have noted Corvids (Magpies) disturbing nests and people have 
felled infested Oaks ... not a good idea. The number of nests may now have an 
impact on the trees as some are being heavily defoliated.

Elmbridge have been suffering and have even chosen to fell some trees at a 
high risk location.

As said it is just a case of getting succinct info out there and letting 
people know what we can and can't do.

Ron Howe
Tree Officer (Planning)
Mole Valley District Council
Tel. 01306 XXX XXX
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