Battling to stop beetle invasion spreading
MORE than 80,000sq m of land in Paddock Wood has been declared an "infestation zone" following government searches for a destructive Asian beetle.
Forestry Commission and Food and Research Environment Agency officials have begun felling and burning infested trees as part of a desperate effort to prevent the Asian longhorn beetle spreading throughout Britain.
During inspections earlier this month the pest was discovered in almost 30 trees on land close to Maidstone Road.
An emergency public meeting was held at the Hop Farm on Wednesday to outline urgent eradication action.
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Entomologist Nigel Straw told concerned residents and landowners the beetle was among the five most serious tree pests in the world.
He said: "It is very serious. If it is allowed to spread it will continue to destroy trees on a large scale. We know once they are established they can increase rapidly and spread out over a much wider area."
But the agency's Martin Ward insisted the infestation could be contained.
Advice leaflets have been sent to homes within a 2km radius of the infestation zone.
Special report page 6