Forestry Commission logo

Oak Processionary Moth Outbreak Management Team

Minutes of the Sixth Meeting

12:30pm, 16 July 2010
Riverwalk House, London

Present:

Stewart Snape, FC, Deputy Head of Plant Health (Chair)
Roddie Burgess, FC, Head of Plant Health
Ron Melville, FC, Regional Director, London
Nigel Straw, Forest Research
Christine Tilbury, Forest Research
Ralph Parks, Consultant Ecologist
Ben Clutterbuck, London Borough of Ealing
Shaun Case, London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames
Craig Ruddick, London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames
Glen Harding, London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames
Gary Rimmer, London Borough of Brent
Mike Turner, The Royal Parks
Gillian Jonasus, The Royal Parks
David Lofthouse, London Tree Officers' Association
Barry Walsh, SW London Health Protection Unit, Health Protection Agency
Debbie Erskine, Secretary

Apologies:

Charlton Clark, Mike Robinson, Tony Kirkham, Neil Manning, Scott Meadows, Chris Begley, Matthew Oates, Gavin Simmons, Frances Hirst, Dr Margie Meltzer, Becky Hesch, Peter Massini, Sara Redstone, Robie Kamanyire, Rebecca Farrar, Al Smith, Joseph McFarland

Agenda Item 1: Welcome and Introductions

1. Stewart Snape welcomed everyone to the sixth meeting of the Oak Processionary Moth Outbreak Management Team and explained that he was taking over as Chair from Roddie Burgess.  He invited Barry Walsh to raise any issues he wanted as he was leaving the meeting early.

Item 2: Minutes of the Fifth Meeting held on 24 March 2010

2. The minutes of the Fifth Meeting held on 24 March 2010 were agreed.

Item 3: Matters arising

3. The Team discussed the following action points from the following paragraphs of the minutes of the last meeting:

Para 4 – Roddie Burgess explained that details of the costs incurred by the major stakeholders had not all been received. These were sought so as to be able to fully brief Ministers. They would also help inform the Forestry Commission’s funding bid which would cover a number of current pest and disease threats, not just Oak Processionary Moth. In response to Mike Turner, who had said that costing was part-done because the work had not been completed, Roddie Burgess explained that all parties were in the same position and that ‘costs to date’ would suffice.

Action: Team members to provide action plans and costs to Roddie Burgess asap.

Para 5 – Barry Walsh confirmed that he had sent a copy of his presentation, outlining the health issues and the Health Protection Agency’s efforts to raise awareness, to Roddie Burgess, who confirmed that it had been published on the Forestry Commission’s website.

Para 6 – Roddie Burgess expressed thanks to Tony Kirkham for setting up the Kew Action Group and added that it was working well with a proactive approach from all members.  He added that the Landowners’ Meeting held on 23 March 2010 had paid significant dividends.

Para 8 – Roddie Burgess explained that he would update the Team on the amendments to the Plant Health (Forestry) Order 2005 at agenda item 4.

Para 9 – Ben Clutterbuck explained that he and Ralph had been discussing standard operating procedures and a final draft had been produced to be approved by London Tree Officers Association and then published.

Para 12 – Ben Clutterbuck explained that training for surveys had taken place through London Tree Officers Association during which presentations had been made by Barry Walsh on health and safety issues and by Ralph Parks on identification and treatment methods.  Nests had been left in place for inspection as part of the training.  Feedback from members had been very positive.  It was agreed that training should be held annually, earlier in the year.

Para 14 – Ben Clutterbuck had not sent details of smaller vacuums to Roddie Burgess as events had overtaken and would be discussed later in the meeting.

Para 15 – Roddie Burgess explained that Impact Assessments were being prepared on the five pests included in the Forestry Commission funding bid – Acute Oak Decline, Oak Processionary Moth, Pine-tree Lappet, Red Band Needle Blight of Pine and Horse Chestnut Bleeding Canker. He added that an exit strategy for Oak Processionary Moth had not been taken forward and would be kept on hold because there were indications that Oak Processionary Moth had not reached that stage. In response to a question from David Lofthouse about funding available for Oak Processionary Moth, Roddie Burgess explained that he hoped Ministers would be supporting the funding bid and had already confirmed that they wanted research to continue. However, he was concerned about what funding the Treasury would approve.

Agenda Item 4: Update on Statutory Controls

Meeting with Landowners

4. Roddie Burgess explained that Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, had written to the Secretary of State asking for a meeting to discuss Oak Processionary Moth. The Secretary of State had asked Forestry Commission and Defra officials to meet with Zac Goldsmith and Peter Foord of the Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club (RMS). Roddie Burgess reported that they had had an open and constructive meeting earlier that week.

5. There was a clear recognition from the RMS that businesses were responsible for covering the costs of outbreaks. However, they did express concern that businesses may be thwarted by private landowners being unable to treat or remove nests which would break the chain of trying to contain or eradicate the pest. Roddie Burgess had agreed to take forward Mr Goldsmith’s request that a senior Forestry Commission official should write to the Chief Executives of the affected London Boroughs asking them to take a more proactive approach and to provide either treatment or funding for treatment for privately-owned infested trees.

6. Ben Clutterbuck questioned whether the London Boroughs would have sufficient funding available, to which Roddie Burgess responded that Oak Processionary Moth needed to be eradicated or it would result in a life-long problem. However, he did recognise the financial difficulties all parties were under.

Action: Roddie Burgess to ensure that a letter from a senior Forestry Commission official be sent to London Boroughs’ Chief Executives asking them to take a proactive approach and to provide either treatment or funding for treatment for private landowners.

Update on Statutory Controls

7. Roddie Burgess explained that the European Commission had started the process of considering the Forestry Commission’s request that Oak Processionary Moth be listed in the Annexes to the Plant Health Directive. The Annexes Working Group had asked the Forestry Commission to consider four areas:
 a survey of the rest of the country to confirm that Oak Processionary Moth was confined to London was needed.  Roddie Burgess added that the survey programme was underway and that the isolated outbreak at Leeds had been eradicated.
 the European Commission asked why the Forestry Commission had limited its import controls to trees higher than two metres. Roddie Burgess explained that this was based on other member states’ experience that Oak Processionary Moth did not lay eggs on trees of less than two metres. He added that the Forestry Commission had no evidence to either support or refute that theory and should the European Commission ask him to remove the two-metre rule then he would be happy to do so. This would mean that controls would apply to all oak trees entering the protected zone.
 the European Commission asked the Forestry Commission to consider the flight range of the female, which would inform the description of the protected zone. The ‘outbreak area’ would need to include a peripheral pest-free buffer zone of twice the annual natural dispersal range.  Although there are reports that females can fly up to five or more kilometres, the most reliable data indicate a maximum dispersal distance for females of two kilometres. The Forestry Commission therefore considered that a four-kilometre buffer zone would be adequate;
 the European Commission asked the Forestry Commission to define the infested area and buffer zone – the ‘outbreak area’.  Roddie distributed a map of the proposed area including a four-kilometre buffer zone. He added that, for administrative purposes, rather than have a rigidly defined four-kilometre buffer zone, the London Boroughs within the four-kilometre zone should be named, i.e. Brent, Ealing, Hounslow, Hammersmith & Fulham, Wandsworth, Richmond Upon Thames, Kingston Upon Thames, Merton and Kensington & Chelsea, although the latter three had shown no signs of infestation and the Forestry Commission had not yet been in contact with them. In response to a question from Mike Turner, Roddie Burgess explained that nurseries within the outbreak would need to be registered and inspected at least annually to ensure they and any oaks in the immediate vicinity remained free from the pest, but that simply being within the area shouldn’t stop them trading. Ben Clutterbuck added that the buffer zone might need to be altered following a further infestation in Osterley Park. The Team agreed to proceed as Roddie Burgess had suggested.

8. In response to a question about timing, Roddie Burgess explained that the Annexes Working Group would meet in September and had asked that the above information to be with them by then. The Working Group would make recommendations to the Standing Committee and if a protected zone was agreed, the resultant European Commission Directive would be published and member States given six months to implement. Therefore Roddie Burgess would expect any adopted proposal to be implemented in about a year’s time. However, in the interim, the existing import controls would remain in place.

9. Roddie Burgess confirmed that once 2010 infestation data was available, it would be overlaid over the 2009 data to help define a buffer zone. He added that he would like to have nurseries plotted on the map so that these could be taken into account in a bid to reduce the burden on business.

10. Roddie Burgess expressed concern that there was again no representative from the London Borough of Hounslow at the meeting.  He hoped they would become more proactive in future.

Action:  David Lofthouse to notify Tree Officers in the affected boroughs.

Agenda Item 5: Mid-season Update

11. Stewart Snape invited representatives around the table to give an update.
 Gary Rimmer reported that there was little change in Brent and Ealing and that Ealing was handling Oak Processionary Moth in Brent. Two nests had been found and removed in Brent.
 Glen Harding reported that some sites in Richmond Upon Thames had been treated by spraying and some new nests had been found which hadn’t been sprayed, but had been removed by hand.
 Mike Turner reported that 278 nests had been found on 126 trees which were being simultaneously removed as they were found.  Searches had been concentrated at the western end of Richmond Park. He added that nests were being removed manually rather than being treated by spraying because Richmond Park and other party organisations were concerned about spraying on a Site of Special Scientific Interest which had a number of protected species, particularly lepidoptera, and which contradicts what Royal Parks were required do under Planning Policy Statement 9 which sets out planning policies on protection of biodiversity and geological conservation through the planning system. He asked that it be put on record that Richmond Park was not saying that it didn’t want to use chemicals, but there were several very serious logistical problems in using chemicals.  He added that they had been as proactive as possible and had manually removed as many nests as possible. However, Mike Turner was concerned that Natural England and other organisations would object to chemical spraying. Roddie Burgess added that Kew Gardens had used deltamethrin and had written a report on its potential impact. Roddie Burgess confirmed that the report stated that there had been no significant impact on bird life or bees in Kew.  Mike Turner added that he was concerned about the effect that treated larvae falling from trees would have on deer if ingested.  Roddie Burgess confirmed that the Kew report stated that there was no impact on birds ingesting larvae. Roddie Burgess agreed that a meeting should be set up with key stakeholders to discuss Richmond Park’s issues and to decide the best way forward.

Action: Ron Melville to set up a meeting of Richmond Park and Natural England officials.

 Ben Clutterbuck reported that infestation had spread south in Ealing and that early spraying had been carried out using Bacillus Thuringiensis and deltamethrin, and that further nests found were now being removed manually.
 Ralph Parks presented his interim report on Oak Processionary Moth control which highlighted that:
- Treatment with Bacillus Thuringiensis and deltamethrin had had a dramatic effect on the number of nests found at the Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Course.
- There had been a significant population increase in the Petersham and Richmond Park area.
- In Hounslow, infestations at Syon Park, Chiswick House and a school were being treated while new infestations had been found at Osterly Park, Wyke Green Golf Course and at other scattered locations.
- In Ealing and Brent, there was still a healthy population on Network Rail Property, the London Underground Central and Piccadilly lines and south on the A406.
- There were no known new infestations in Hammersmith.
- 52 notices had been served with a further eight in preparation, but 75 per cent of these had been actioned and were complete.
- Observations on the development of egg plaques had proved there was a stagger in development of some four to six weeks. Consequently, the survey period would be extended into September this year.
- There had been a significant reduction in re-infestation where trees had been sprayed with deltamethrin.
- Nest removal was inefficient and costly because contractors often miss nests which can’t be seen from the ground.
- There was evidence to support the theory that some eggs overwinter twice, therefore prophylactic sprays in April and May were essential on trees known to have been infested the previous year.
 Nigel Straw reported that he and Christine Tilbury had attended an Oak Processionary Moth experts' meeting in Germany in June, during which they had visited a 500-hectare block of infested woodland. He added that they had learned that Holland only sprayed with Bacillus Thuringiensis and theirs was very much an urban problem. The insecticide had been applied using ground-based sprayers. Germany was spraying with Bacillus Thuringiensis and dimilin. Both insecticides had been applied from the air using helicopters. Nigel Straw explained that the type of Bacillus Thuringiensis used in Europe was different from that used in GB and did not have approval for use in GB. Christine Tilbury added that all efforts should be made to use chemicals that had the least impact on the wider environment. Roddie Burgess added that an area which needed to be explored was which legislation took precedence. However, in recent dealings with the Environment Agency about Phytophthora ramorum it recognised that, as long as there was minimum impact on the environment, forestry legislation could take precedence. He also added that the differences in the strains of Bacillus Thuringiensis were that the GB strain was synthetic whilst the European one was live.

Agenda Item 6: Next steps

12. Stewart Snape explained that the Forestry Commission would continue its work to eradicate Oak Processionary Moth as best it could under the current financial constraints. He added that Ralph Parks and his team had carried out excellent work, although they had been stretched and asked that all authorities be proactive in their survey work. Ralph Parks added that the volunteers in Richmond Park had carried out excellent work. Stewart Snape thanked everyone for their efforts and added that the Forestry Commission would work closely with Richmond Park to resolve their sensitive issues. He added that the 2010 survey figures would be available in a couple of months and that the Forestry Commission would notify the relevant London Boroughs that they were included in the outbreak zone, outside the protected zone.

Action: Stewart Snape to notify the relevant London Boroughs that they were included in the outbreak zone, outside the protected zone.

13. Roddie Burgess added that the Food & Environment Research Agency would need to include Oak Processionary Moth in its surveys of nurseries and that it should not impact on their ability to trade or add to their costs. He explained that the definition of the protected zone was an area where a pest of concern was not present, or was present locally and under official control with a view to its eradication. If control efforts proved unsuccessful after two years, then protected zone status would be lost. However, if an official control programme was still ongoing then the protected zone would be retained.
14. In response to a question from David Lofthouse, Ralph Parks explained that if work required under any notices served had not been completed on time, he would write to the owners to notify them that if they did not comply, the Forestry Commission had the power to appoint a contractor to carry out the necessary work and to seek to recover the costs. Thereafter they would be prosecuted under Section 45 of the Plant Health (Forestry) Order 2005. He explained to Christine Tilbury that he distributed leaflets to raise public awareness. He added that the statutory notice consisted of a covering letter, the notice itself and the control options, and that he had given Christine Tilbury a CD containing copies of all the letters, which had been tailored for each specific site.

Action: Ralph Parks to write to owners of outstanding notices.

Agenda Item 7: Research Update

15. Stewart Snape explained that a trial had been carried out the previous week using the same industrial vacuum equipment used at Kew Gardens to remove nests.  He added that there were health and safety implications such as personal protective equipment, decontaminating the equipment and disposing of the nest material.  He invited Ralph Parks to give an update on the trial to the Team.  Ralph Parks explained that two vacuum machines were trialled at four separate sites, one large (240 volt), similar to the one used at Kew, and one small (110 volt), which could be carried up into the tree. He added that the vacuums had originally been designed for asbestos removal with self sealing bags to protect the operator from dust.  However, he was concerned that in one case, when the nozzle was inserted into a large nest, pupae had been ejected from the nest, which would be able to survive. He recommended that sheeting be put on the ground before vacuuming so that debris could be removed from the site. He added that large nests were difficult to remove by hand and that the vacuum equipment was essential in bigger sites with large nests.  Roddie Burgess added that he hoped the outcome of the trials would encourage contractors into using the vacuum method for nest removal.  Stewart Snape added that he had the draft standard operating procedure and would distribute copies to the Team once it had been approved.

Action: Stewart Snape to distribute the vacuum standard operating procedure to the Team once it had been approved.

Agenda Item 8: Any Other Business

16. Stewart Snape agreed with Roddie Burgess’s suggestion that an end of season mop-up survey be carried out.  Ralph Parks added that he made his survey statistics available to the London Boroughs as they became available.

Agenda Item 9: Date of Next Meeting

17. The Outbreak Management Team agreed that the next meeting should be scheduled for the first week in November.

Action: Debbie Erskine to schedule the Seventh Meeting of the Oak Processionary Moth Outbreak Management Team for the first week in November at Riverwalk House, London.

Summary of Actions

Agenda Item 3: Matters arising - Team members to provide action plans and costs to Roddie Burgess asap.

Agenda Item 4: Update on Statutory Controls

Oak Processionary Moth Landowners’ Meeting - Roddie Burgess to ensure that a letter from a senior Forestry Commission official to be sent to London Boroughs’ Chief Executives asking them to take a proactive approach and to provide either treatment or funding for treatment for private landowners.

David Lofthouse to notify Tree Officers in the affected boroughs.

Agenda Item 5: Mid-season Update - Ron Melville to set up a meeting of Richmond Park and Natural England officials.

Agenda Item 6: Next steps - Stewart Snape to notify the relevant London Boroughs that they were included in the outbreak zone, outside the protected zone.

Ralph Parks to write to owners of outstanding notices.

Agenda Item 7: Research Update - Stewart Snape to distribute the vacuum standard operating procedure to the team once it had been approved.

Agenda Item 9: Date of Next Meeting - Debbie Erskine to schedule the seventh meeting of the Oak Processionary Moth Outbreak Management Team for the first week in November at Riverwalk House, London.