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RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch

Counting the birds

This weekend sees the return of the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch, an initiative which encourages thousands around the UK to pick an hour over the weekend to discover wildlife in their gardens.

Budding bird watchers are encouraged to register in advance to get their free information pack, then take one hour to watch and record the number of birds in the garden or open space and submit the results.

The initiative has been taking place since 1979. Results enable the RSPB to monitor trends and understand how birds are doing and take steps to put them right.

Revisiting the town Mary Portas hired to 'turn around'

Kate Hemingway revisits a town in Lincolnshire which had its High Street thrown into the spotlight two years ago after the Queen of Shops Mary Portas, was hired by the Government to turn it around.

A regeneration team in Market Rasen is now putting plans in place to carry on the work - but some residents say the Portas scheme has failed to deliver.


Siemens project launched in Hull

Construction work has started on a £300million wind turbine production and installation plant in Hull, which is being hailed as the most significant investment in the Humber region for a century.

Siemens is investing the huge sum at the city's Alexandra Dock, which the company says will create up to a 1,000 full time jobs.

Experts say the region has the potential to be the a world-class renewable energy hub.

Fiona Dwyer was at today's ground-breaking ceremony:

Launch of £310 million renewable energy project

Renewable energy

Environment Secretary Ed Davey is in Hull this afternoon helping to launch the Siemens project.

The 310 million pound investment in renewable energy will create one thousand new jobs in East Yorkshire. The offshore wind turbine manufacturing and assembly facilities will be based in Hull's Alexandra Dock. And this afternoon there is an opening ceremony to mark the start of construction.

Parking charges set to return to Halifax town centre

Reprieve is over

Motorists will be charged for on street parking in Halifax town centre from February 2nd - after enjoying a four month reprieve.

A new Traffic Regulation Order will allow the Council to reinstate parking charges and enforce all parking restrictions across the 20 streets in the central area of Halifax.

On street parking charges were lifted in the town centre in October 2014, after it became clear that some of the Council’s TROs could not be legally enforced.

Details of the new order will be available to view on streets in the town centre from January 30th and on the council's website.


Dairy producers fear uncertain future

Dairy farmers across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire fear they will be forced out of business unless more is done to protect them from falls in milk prices.

Prices have come under pressure from a combination of rising supply and falling demand, particularly as a result of lower-than-expected demand from China and Russia's ban on food imports.

The industry has the backing of MPs who are calling for new powers to fine supermakets over disputes.

Chris Kiddey has been to meet one farmer from West Yorkshire:

Cheese production is 'lifeline' for dairy farmer

Michael Davenport, a dairy farmer from Osgodby in Lincolnshire, now produces cheese as well as milk.

He produces 500 thousand litres of milk a year and uses one third of that for cheese production. Michael says his cheese accounts for two thirds of his profitable turnover so it's a lifeline for his business.

Cheese offers a lifeline
Cheese making profits

Anne McIntosh: 89p for 2 litres of milk 'not enough'

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee says dairy farmers need greater protection in the face of sharp falls in the price of milk. It is urging the government to extend the Groceries Code Adjudicator's (GCA) remit to include dairy farmers in the scheme, which covers suppliers to the big supermarkets and retailers.

The Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh is chair of EFRA and she says the charging of 89p for two litres of milk in supermarkets is "not appropriate".

MPs urge government to protect dairy producers

Dairy farmers need greater protection in the face of sharp falls in the price of milk, MPs have said.

A report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee says fluctuating milk prices are driving dairy farmers out of business. Credit: Press Association

Since last summer the dairy industry has been hit by significant falls in milk prices in the face of rising supply and falling demand, particularly from China and as a result of the Russian trade ban.

The sharp reversal in fortunes, coming after prices hit their highest level for several years, has been driving dairy farmers out of business every week, with the total number in the UK falling to below 10,000 for the first time.

The parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee urged the Government to extend the Groceries Code Adjudicator's (GCA) remit to include dairy farmers in the scheme, which covers suppliers to the big supermarkets and retailers.

MPs also called for ministers to help dairy farmers tap into worldwide export opportunities and press for clearer "country-of-origin" labelling so that consumers know if they really are buying British, and for an EU review of the protection against very low prices.

The committee's chairwoman Anne McIntosh said: "The volatility of worldwide and domestic milk markets is making financial planning and investment impossible for small-scale producers unable to hedge against changes beyond their control.

"The vast majority of dairy farmers fall outside the protection offered by the Groceries Code Adjudicator. She can only investigate complaints involving direct suppliers to the big 10 supermarkets and retailers, and as most milk production is small-scale, that excludes most dairy farmers. The Efra committee thought that was wrong when the GCA was set up in 2013, and events since then justify our view that her remit should be extended to include small-scale suppliers, whether or not they have a direct relationship with the ultimate seller of their produce."

She also said the committee was "shocked" to learn that the adjudicator was still unable to levy fines on retailers because the Government had not yet set the level of fine she could seek, and called for the power to be activated before the general election.

In a report on dairy prices, the MPs also called on farmers to consider forming "producer organisations" to increase their clout in the market.

A Government spokesman said: "We understand the concerns of British farmers over the current pressures on milk prices caused by the volatility of the global market and we are doing all we can to help manage this. This includes giving dairy farmers the opportunity to unite in producer organisations so they have greater clout in the marketplace. We have also brokered a dairy industry code of practice on contractual relationships to improve transparency and give farmers a fairer deal, which now covers 85% of UK dairy production."

He added that it was important to remember that the long-term prospects for the dairy industry were good.

"We are helping the dairy industry to take advantage of opportunities such as opening new export markets and pushing for better country of origin labelling for British dairy products. We strongly support the work of the Groceries Code Adjudicator. Its jurisdiction is currently limited to the scope of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, and does not cover pricing - which is the responsibility of the Competition and Markets Authority. There will be a statutory review of the GCA next year."

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