Leading article: Save our shrubs

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In these financially straitened times, the pressure on ministers to slash expenditure must be intense. So we should be grateful that the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, has resisted such pressures and chosen to devote £25m towards halting the spread of the phytophthora fungus through Britain.

Phytophthora ramorum and phytophthora kernoviae have the potential to be the most destructive plant pathogens since Dutch elm disease, which killed 25 million trees on these islands in the 1960s.

The British countryside was changed forever by this scourge. Action needs to be taken early to stamp out this new threat and stop our beech trees and shrubs going the same way as our once proud elms. These funds should help deliver that necessary response.

We have lost too much of our financial capital in the past year. We must not be so careless of our environmental assets

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