Live updates

Public rally against building in rural Oxfordshire

A coalition of community groups and campaigners is holding its first major rally in David Cameron's constituency of Witney, to protest against the construction of housing developments in rural areas.

Campaigners have gathered in Witney this morning

The Rural Oxfordshire Action Rally are protesting against a planning system which they say has been "defectively changed" over the past two-and-a-half years, to "allow a rash of rampant cynical developer driven building projects which would have been refused permission under the traditional planning criteria."

It comes after a planning application was submitted to West Oxfordshire District Council last year for 200 homes between Witney and Hailey.

Fatal motorway collision prompts ministers to consider 'Beware of Boars' road signs

Ministers are considering bringing out 'beware of boars' road signs following a fatal motorway collision involving one of the wild animals last week.

The new sign could be put up on stretches of roads near 'infested' areas, along with barriers to keep out the 20 stone animals.

One of the areas considered a hotspot for wild boar is thought to be Kent where hundreds of them live.

Advertisement

Revival of ancient wassailing ritual

Wassailing at Fort Amherst Credit: Fort Amherst

Fort Amherst in Chatham has hosted an ancient Wassailing ceremony which dates back to Saxon times.

It's performed to awaken fruit trees and bee hives and to drive away evil spirits to help ensure a summer harvest.

Keith Gulvin, a Trustee at Fort Amherst for over 30 years, said: "‘it’s reassuring to know that there is such an appetite for these authentic events, and that the time and energy it takes to ensure these ceremonies aren’t forgotten is not in vain."

Wassailing at Fort Amherst Credit: Fort Amherst
Wassailing at Fort Amherst Credit: Fort Amherst
  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

Boxing Day Hunt rides from Lewes

Ten years ago, the Hunting Act made it illegal to hunt foxes with hounds across England and Wales. Many said the Act would destroy a countryside way of life. But from the turnout at Boxing Day trail hunts across the South East, it seems the tradition is far from dead.

David Johns reports, speaking to spectators, hunt protestor Marina Pepper and Jonathan, a huntsman.

5 heritage sites and nature reserves now in care of Chiltern Society

Chiltern Society heritage site Credit: Buckinghamshire County Council

Five important heritage sites and nature reserves in Buckinghamshire have been handed over into the care of the Chiltern Society.

The Society has taken a 99 year lease on Whiteleaf Hill near Princes Risborough; Captain's Wood in Chesham; part of Cholesbury Camp; Cobblers' Pits by Wendover Woods and the Hampden Monument near Prestwood.

Buckinghamshire County Council retains ownership of the sites and is charging the Society a peppercorn rent. It says the arrangement saves the Council taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds while safeguarding the future of the sites.

This agreement makes good sense for both parties. It enables the Council to focus its resources where they are most needed, and our Society to demonstrate its commitment to safeguarding special Chiltern sites for the future.

– Roger Newman, Chiltern Society Vice Chairman

Number of tree sparrows on the increase

The Wiltshire Tree Sparrow community is thriving according to MDNIA Credit: MDNIA
The Wiltshire Tree Sparrow community is thriving according to MDNIA Credit: MDNIA

The Wiltshire Tree Sparrow community is thriving according to the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (MDNIA) project. The MDNIA covers 10,370 hectares (25,625 acres) of chalk downland to the south of Swindon, within the North Wessex Downs.

In 2014 the number of Tree Sparrows in Wiltshire has increased. Across the county in total 170 pairs were nested, raising 1542 nestlings to fledgling's, which is an increase on last year when 890 fledged from 125 pairs in 2013. The MDNIA recorded 76 pairs in its boundary that had fledged, with 623 nestlings to fledgling's (510 fledged from 62 pairs in 2013. See table below).

The species is reaping the benefits of the MDNIA Tree Sparrow project. Working with the MDNIA farmer's, 1000 nest boxes have been sited across 300 square miles, creating sparrow villages in the area surrounding Marlborough. This has resulted in the majority of Tree Sparrows nesting within five miles of the MDNIA, growing their colonies beyond the nature improvement area boundary.

Since 1999 circa 14000 Tree Sparrows have been ringed in the Marlborough Downs area.

Last winter's feeding has definitely helped the birds survive. A great breeding season last spring combined with us putting out large quantities of food again this winter means we are very excited about the prospects for Tree Sparrows in the Marlborough area next year.

– Matt Prior, who manages the MDNIA Tree Sparrow project

Advertisement

In his sights: should parakeets be culled?

A video company which has posted a guide on how to lure and kill parakeets has been criticised by an animal welfare charity.

There are some 30,000 parakeets in the South East, an invasive species, which are harming local wildlife and crops - according to some. And their numbers are growing all the time. Thanet, alone, is believed to have a population of many thousands.

But the RSPB has told us that shooting the birds is cruel - and an ineffective way of controlling their numbers. Sarah Saunders reports

Parakeets invade South East: should they be shot?

Should they be shot? Credit: ITV

A video company which has posted a guide on how to lure and kill parakeets has been criticised by an animal welfare charity.

There are some 30,000 parakeets in the South East, an invasive species, which are harming local wildlife and crops - according to some. And their numbers are growing all the time . Thanet, alone, is believed to have a population of many thousands.

But the RSPB has told us that shooting the birds is cruel - and an ineffective way of controlling their numbers.

A full report, with Frad and Amanda, on ITV Meridian at 6pm.

Museum gateway project secures £4 million

A rural museum has secured £4 million to build a new gateway for visitors at its site in South Downs National Park.

Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

Weald & Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton, in West Sussex, secured the money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The grant will go towards the museum's Gateway Project, which will provide new ticketing, retail and catering facilities as well as a flexible annexe that can be used as a classroom and venue for community events and functions.

Our Gateway Project has been over 10 years in the planning and we are thrilled to have received this award.

Without the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund it would have been impossible for the museum to have progressed with its ambitious scheme for improving our visitors' experience of our unique collection.

– Museum director Richard Pailthorpe

Weald & Downland Open Air Museum houses a collection of more than 50 historic dwellings, including a medieval farmstead and a working Tudor kitchen.

Work on the new gateway will start in 2015 and it is hoped that the new buildings will be available to visitors from the beginning of the 2017 season.

Bournemouth wins award for best coastal resort for second year running

Cyclers in Bournemouth Credit: Press Association

For the second year in a row, Bournemouth has won the Best UK Coastal Resort at the British Travel Awards 2014, held in London last night. Known as the Oscars of the travel industry, over a million votes were cast by the public for this year’s awards. Bournemouth had to see off tough competition to win Gold, with Tenby in Silver and Bude in Bronze position. Other nominees included Blackpool, Brighton, Newquay, Scarborough, St Ives, Weymouth and Whitby.

Load more updates