80-year-old trees in Neath torn down for ‘public safety’ -
Farmers in southern Italy will be forced to chop down thousands of olive trees which are infected with a deadly disease, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday.
The disease, Xylella fastidiosa, was first detected in the southern region of Puglia in 2013 and has led to the death of up to a million olive trees, many of them centuries old.
Italian olive cultivators have resisted calls from Brussels to cut down the trees in order to create a buffer zone and halt the spread of the bacterium, which is transmitted by an insect, the meadow spittlebug.
In Puglia, where an estimated 10 million olive trees give the region a wooded, park-like landscape, they have staged protests and challenged European directives in Italian courts.
Farmers have stood by and wept when their trees were bulldozed and burnt, in an initial phase of destruction which was then temporarily halted by court challenges.
But the court in Luxembourg has now ruled in favour of the European Commission, backing its position that infected trees need to be chopped down and burnt.