The government intends to bring in a ban on ash tree imports and tight restrictions on ash movements within Britain from Monday, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said today.
Mr Paterson told MPs he was proposing the move after the Forestry Commission said a disease which has devastated ash trees in Europe has been found in the countryside in Britain.
His comments came as Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Conservative MP Simon Hart asked in Commons Defra questions what steps the department was taking to deal with ash dieback disease, which has been found in Suffolk.
Mr Paterson replied: "We have already launched a consultation on the ground looking in real detail to see whether this disease has taken root in this country.
"That consultation will report to me on Friday and I will discuss it over the weekend with the head of the Forestry Commission GB.
I think on the evidence we are seeing, I intend to bring in a ban on imports and tight restrictions of ash movements within GB on Monday."
Lewisham Deptford Labour' MP Dame Joan Ruddock criticised the timing of the coalition's response to the issue, arguing Mr Paterson would "not be forgiven for any delay."