The cost of ash dieback for individual farmers was outlined by John Reardon of Limerick and Tipperary Woodland Owners (LTWO).

Reardon planted 20,000 ash plants across 8ha, with a view to having “a sustainable business when they matured”.

However, ash dieback put paid to those plans.

“Right now, I have nothing,” he told the Oireachtas committee last week.

“It is gone. They were mature trees. I minded them for 30 years but four years ago, it became obvious that these [trees] were dying and management was shut down.”

The plantation is now covered by a “2m high blanket of briars”.

A contractor quoted Reardon €10,000/ha to remove the diseased trees and clear the site. The Department grant for this work is €2,000/ha.

“That leaves me with a shortfall of €8,000 which, when multiplied by 8ha is €64,000 - that I would have to borrow,” Reardon explained.

“It is all for nothing; 34 years’ work down the drain.”