SIX cases of ash dieback have been confirmed in the North-East and North Yorkshire - raising fears that the deadly tree disease will take hold in the region.

The fungus has been found at sites near Sedgefield, in County Durham; Seaham, in east Durham; RichmondThirsk and south of York, in North Yorkshire.

A case has also been found near Newcastle International Airport.

Defra said today it did not disclose information on individual cases, however it is thought the affected trees are newly-planted saplings.

Officials said the trees would be burnt or buried.

The discover follows a huge public response to mobile phone app AshTag which has been collating pictures of possible sightings of the tree disease.

Photographs have been submitted from across the UK, and its experts have identified "likely areas" - sightings which appear to show symptoms indicative of the disease.

Some 27 images have been referred to the Forestry Commission for further investigation and site visits to verify whether they are confirmed cases of ash dieback.

Details of the public response comes as tree experts are set to join government and industry officials later at a summit on the tree disease which is threatening to devastate the English countryside.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is holding a summit to discuss the disease which has been discovered in recently planted ash trees and in the wider countryside in the UK.

The Chalara fraxinea fungus causes leaf loss and crown dieback and can lead to tree death.

It has already wiped out 90 per cent of ash trees in Denmark in seven years and is becoming widespread throughout central Europe.