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Tree growers in bid for festive Downing Street glory

Christmas tree growers from across the ITV Meridian region are bidding for the chance to present the tree which will take pride of place at the official residence of the Prime Minister.

The winning tree in 2012 Credit: Press Association

Over 100 growers will take part in a national competition organised by the British Christmas Tree Growers' Association in Oxfordshire today.

The event will see the hopeful contenders - who span in age from 18 to 80 - coming together to showcase their trees to expert growers, and be judged by fellow members.

Each farmer, who will have spent around 10 years nurturing the tree to full 'competition' height, is able to enter categories including Best Nordman, Best Other Fir, Best Pine, Best Norway Spruce, Best Other Spruce, Best Container Grown, and Best Festive Wreath.

Finalists can submit only one tree into each category, and trees entered must be commercially cultivated and be 1.8 metres high from base to tip. Each will be judged for foliage, colour, shape and marketability.

Following the verdict from the prestigious competition day, the winning grower will supply Downing Street's 20 ft Christmas tree, while the winner of the wreath category will create a wreath to hang at the front door of Number 10.

An award for the treehouse, created in the woods of Sussex

Today we are featuring a winner of the RIBA prize - an oscar in the world of architecture and only awarded to those buildings that really stand out. It is a home in the middle of a forest, deep in the heart of Sussex. Using unusual materials and simple styling, it offers a unique place to live for a family that dared to be different. Stacey Poole has been for a look around.

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'Remarkable' findings at Stonehenge

Astonishing findings at Stonehenge Credit: Birmingham University

A host of previously unknown archaeological monuments have been discovered around Stonehenge as part of an unprecedented digital mapping project that will transform our knowledge of the iconic landscape – including remarkable new findings on the world’s largest ‘super henge’, Durrington Walls.

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, led by the University of Birmingham in conjunction with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, is the largest project of its kind.

Remote sensing techniques and geophysical surveys have discovered hundreds of new features which now form part of the most detailed archaeological digital map of the Stonehenge landscape ever produced. The startling results of the survey, unveiled in full at the British Science Festival, include 17 previously unknown ritual monuments dating to the period when Stonehenge achieved its iconic shape.

Dozens of burial mounds have been mapped in minute detail, including a long barrow (a burial mound dating to before Stonehenge) which revealed a massive timber building,

  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

Volunteers to capture badgers for innoculation

They are either seen as charming, nocturnal creatures who are a rare treat to spot - or as a bacteria-ridden pest bringing disease to our farmers - badgers polarise opinion like perhaps no other wildlife creature in this country.

Long linked with the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis, the animals have, in some parts of the country, been culled to stop the spread of the disease. But in East Sussex, a project's underway to vaccinate the creatures instead.

David Johns explains, talking to Kate Edmonds from the Sussex Badger Vaccination Project; Annie Vernon from the National Farmers Union; and wildlife conservationist Trevor Weeks MBE.

1,000 tonnes of baled hay up in flames in barn fire

Flames inside the barn this morning Credit: Keith Tucker

About 1,000 tonnes of baled hay went up in flames at a farm on the Isle of Sheppey this morning. Fire crews were called Queenborough in the early hours . Two crews worked to stop the flames spreading and nobody was hurt. The site is now back in the care of the owner of the property.

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Dog owners urged to control their pets after flock of sheep mauled

A Kent farmer says she's devastated after a dog attacked her flock of sheep - killing one and injuring another so badly it had to be put down. The incident happened on a farm at Otterden, near Faversham on Sunday night. Two more sheep had to be taken to the vet for treatment. It's an increasing problem across the county, with police now recording around six attacks a month. Andrea Thomas has been speaking to farmer Julie Murray, PC Michael Laidlow from Kent Police and Catherine Joules from the National Farmers' Union.