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Chester Zoo closed early due to high winds caused by Storm Ophelia

Large branch brought down on a pathway at Chester Zoo Credit: Julia Jones

Chester Zoo closed early today due to extremely high winds, which brought a large branch down on its site.

The zoo apologised for any inconvenience caused but said visitor safety and the welfare of the animals was our 'absolute priority'.

Grandmother Julia Jones from Stockport said she'd walked along the path with her grandchildren in pushchairs seconds before the branch fell.

She said staff who handled the situation calmly and professionally.

Chester Zoo said given the forecast their keepers were prepared for the change in the weather and all the animals were 'safe and sound'.

The zoo says it expects to open as usual tomorrow

Trains disrupted by effects of Hurricane Ophelia

Remnants of Hurricane Ophelia causing disruption Credit: Met Office

A tree is currently blocking the rail line between Manchester Piccadilly and Stalybridge.

Services running to and from these stations will be cancelled or delayed.

Disruption is expected until 10:15pm.

Trains are disrupted between Manchester Airport and Wilmslow after a tree fell on the overhead electrical wires near Wilmslow.

Trains are disrupted between Manchester Victoria and Todmorden due to an 'obstruction' on the line between these two stations. This has resulted in some lines being blocked.

Services are disrupted between Salford Crescent and Wigan Wallgate / Wigan North Western by a tree blocking the line near Moorside.

All lines are currently blocked. Trains may be cancelled or delayed by up to 30 minutes. Disruption is expected to continue until 20:00.

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Weather warnings in place as Storm Ophelia makes its way to the UK

Storm Ophelia is due to make its way to the UK later today Credit: Helen McKenna, ITV

Storm Ophelia has hit the UK mainland today, with flights grounded and a "danger to life" warning in place.

Remnants of the hurricane have reached Britain with gusts of up to 80mph forecast - exactly 30 years after the Great Storm of 1987 killed 18 people.

Planes have been grounded at Manchester Airport, with 20 flights cancelled and passengers warned to check ahead.

There have also been three precautionary landings at Liverpool John Lennon Airport - with one plane having to turn around and safely land at the airport shortly after take-off.

Pilots on-board the EasyJet flights are said to have noticed a strange smell in the cockpit - thought to either be due to dust from the Sahara or fumes from Portuguese forest blown by Ophelia.

The storm is expected to move across to northern England throughout Monday.

High winds are expected across the entire region, while a yellow warning is in place for much of north west England.

Forecasters are warning of flying debris, such as tiles blown from roofs, as well as large waves around coastal districts with beach material being thrown on to coastal roads, sea fronts and properties.

MET weatherman Grahame Madge said.

Parts of England, areas like the North West, are covered by a warning. The impacts will be felt in northern England into Tuesday.

Winds will be 50-60mph, possibly gusting to 70mph, even in the yellow warning areas.

– Grahame Madge, MET Weatherman

Motorists have been warned to avoid unnecessary travel due to the storm, and have been warned about flying debris, fallen trees and large waves along coastal roads.

The AA issued emergency advice to drivers to be prepared for disruption and road closures.

Spokesman Vince Crane said:

Those in the worst-affected regions such as Ireland, west Wales, the North West and Scotland should avoid unnecessary travel.

For those on the road, expect disruption and drive to the conditions. This may mean slowing down so that sudden gusts don't blow you as far off course.

Road closures are likely, particularly on exposed bridges or where debris or fallen trees cause blockages, so check your route and plan for diversions.

Strong or sudden gusts of wind are more likely on open stretches of road, when passing bridges or gaps in hedges, or when overtaking high-sided vehicles.

Wind can also bring down trees, blow you off course or blow other vehicles into your path.

Be prepared as some roads will be treacherous. Never attempt to drive through flood water.

– Vince Crane, The AA

Met Office forecaster Luke Miall said that while storms with these wind speeds tend to happen at this time of year, the one on its way is "quite a substantial system", adding that he would describe it as "pretty exceptional".

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has three battalions - 1,200 personnel in total - permanently on standby to assist with contingencies.

But an MoD spokesman said it has not yet received requests from any local authority for assistance.

An amber weather warning has been issued for the Isle of Man by the MET Office, with gails between 60-70mph expected, with risks of reaching up to 80.

The storm has disrupted travel on the island, sailings between Douglas, Heysham and Liverpool are all cancelled, with passengers booked on these sailings asked to contact the Steam Packet Company.

Motorists are advised to take alternative routes and to park vehicles away from seafront areas. Pedestrians are also urged to exercise extreme caution and stay clear from where waves are breaking.

Roads will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians from 7pm in the worst affected coastal locations – the northern end of Douglas Promenade, Castletown Promenade, Shore Road in Gansey and Fenella Beach/Castle Causeway in Peel.

Sandbags will be deployed to Castletown Promenade and the northern end of Douglas Promenade for use by property owners.

Although, schools and premises on the Isle of Man remain open today and bus services will be operating as normal, all after-school activities, evening classes, youth clubs, parents’ evenings and private lettings have been cancelled.

The MET Office has issued an amber weather warning for today and tonight. Credit: IOM Gov

Flights scheduled with FlyBe and Aer Lingus after 3pm from Ronaldsway are also due to be disrupted.

For further info about the storm and what an amber weather warning entails, visit the MET Office website.

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IoM water rates could freeze next year

It's likely homes and businesses in the Isle of Man will see the rates they pay for water and sewerage frozen next year.

It follows a review of the £538m debt of the island's energy company Manx Utilities.

The review said the debt should be reduced in exchange for lower price increases over the next five to ten years.

The Manx Treasury, however, is proposing freezing charges for all customers for 12 months.

Dr Alex Allinson is the chairman of Manx Utilities and spoke to Granada Reports about the proposed changes.

Wildlife Trust claims HS2 will impact animal life on route

Campaigners warn of adverse environmental impact of Hs2 Credit: PA

A leading wildlife charity has warned the multi billion pound HS2 rail route will have a severe impact on local wildlife.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust believe the high speed line in south Cheshire will hit farmland species the hardest. The Trust claims birds such as yellow wagtail, skylark and tree sparrow are particularly vulnerable.

There's also concern mammals such as the water vole and several bat species will struggle to recover once their habitats are disrupted or lost. These farmland species are already in rapid decline as their habitats have either become fragmented in recent years by changing land-use or lost altogether to development.

The Trust's concerns are based around the loss of a core site from the Meres and Mosses Nature Improvement Area and the loss of two potential ancient woodlands which would be impossible to off-set through creating new wildlife areas.

Rachel Giles, Evidence and Planning Manager at Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

"We believe that in the rush to develop the scheme HS2 Ltd. has made a catalogue of errors vastly underestimating the impact to the natural environment."

"The current plans for Phase 2a show that High Speed Rail is set to push our local wildlife right to the edge as it severs the wildlife corridors and breeding sites used by species to move through the landscape to feed and rear young,"

HS2 Ltd said "We will be replacing, conserving or enhancing wildlife habitats affected by our plans, as part of a new green corridor alongside the railway.

"Parliament recently held a consultation on the Environmental Statement, which explains how we’ll be managing environmental issues along this part of the route. HS2 will review the consultation responses and will talk to local authorities, wildlife groups, communities and landowners, to consider ways to address their concerns as the project develops.”

IoM prom refurbishment scheme to begin September 2018

The Douglas refurbishment scheme is estimated to be complete by 2021. Credit: IOM Gov

A multi-million pound refurbishment scheme on the Isle of Man will begin next September.

The entire Douglas promenade is due to get a facelift as part of the £21million project, estimated to take until 2021 to complete.

Tynwald parliament agreed to the proposed plans in July and blueprints are on public display at the Sea Terminal.

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