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Community appeal for investors to fund solar farm project

An appeal has been launched for £1.8m to fund a community solar farm in Sittingbourne.

The project is the first of its kind in Kent. It's already started producing energy and selling it to the national grid. Investors will get a 5.5% return, with any surplus profits being put towards community projects.

Stephanie Karpetas, from Orchard Community Energy, explains:

Gardeners from historic castle create ‘Garden of the Year'

Credit: Hever Castle & Gardens

The gardens of an historic castle in Kent has been voted ‘Garden of the Year 2016’.

Hever Castle in Edenbridge won the title and was also given a Gold Award by South & South East in Bloom, in the Heritage Parks & Gardens category.

Credit: Hever Castle & Gardens

Judges praised the gardeners for maintaining the extensive gardens to an immaculate standard. They noted the ‘classic English style Italiante Garden boasts some superb topiary and statuary and over 4,000 rose bushes in the quintessential English Rose Garden.’ They also noted: ‘Very good facilities are available for parking, eating and of course visiting the castle’ and recommended that visitors ‘Walk further afield and enjoy Church Gill Walk the woodland, or Anne Boleyn’s Walk and see the impressive collection of trees planted more than 100 years ago.’

Credit: Hever Castle & Gardens

It is the second consecutive year Hever Castle's gardens have received the Gold standard.

The Hever Castle & Gardens team of gardeners Credit: Hever Castle & Gardens

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Endangered insect is back in South Downs

The habitat is now suitable for the insect Credit: Pixabay

One of the country's most endangered insects has been re-introduced on the South Downs. It has taken over 20 years to ensure that the habitat is suitable for the rare species.

The Wart-Biter Cricket was once widespread but has declined dramatically and is only found in five locations, three of which are in Sussex.

Jon Curson of Natural England: "We hope to release more than 40 adult crickets this year as part of Natural England's Species Recovery Programme.

“Numbers depend on how many we can collect from another donor site in Sussex which holds the best population in the country.”

Power cuts and rain for Dorset & the New Forest

Heavy thunderstorms brought our extended summer to a dramatic end overnight - in a twist to what has been the hottest September in 100 years.

Dorset and the New Forest were among the hardest hit last night - homes struck by lightning, schools closed and roads flooded, and thousands of homes left without power. The storm arrived in Dorset at 1am and slowly made its way east. At it's peak, more than an inch of rain fell in Swanage in just one hour, overwhelming drains and flooding homes.

In Christchurch, a house caught fire when it was struck by lightning, causing the roof to collapse. Rachel Hepworth reports on today's clean-up after the storm.

The day after the night before - flooding in Didcot

Many homes were left without power, and road and and railways in the Thames Valley were flooded overnight - with delays across the South West and Great Western rail networks. The towns mostly affected were Didcot, Newbury and Maidenhead.

All services in and out of Paddington were halted this afternoon due to signalling problems. Mel Bloor reports on the floods in Didcot.

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Flood warnings: Environment Agency alerts in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire

The Environment Agency has issued flood alerts warning that flooding is possible in areas including:

  • The Ginge Brook, for the Steventon area down to and including Sutton Courtenay.
  • The Upper River Loddon including Basingstoke, Old Basing, Sherfield-on-Loddon, Chineham and Meadow Park.
  • the River Thames and its tributaries from Days Lock to above Pangbourne, including Dorchester and Overy, Shillingford, Benson, Ewelme, Wallingford, Winterbrook, East Hagbourne, South Moreton, North Stoke, Moulsford, South Stoke, Goring and Streatley

Low lying land and roads will be affected first.

Fly-tipper jailed after dumping tons of rubbish

He was once dubbed 'Britain's worst fly-tipper' - and tonight Marcus Bairstow is back behind bars. He was caught yet again dumping tons of other people's rubbish and leaving taxpayers with the clean-up bill.

The 41-year-old from Southampton was previously jailed for two years in 2011 after he left a cemetery strewn with rubbish. This time he was caught tipping truck loads of rubbish in fields and a pub car park. Kerry Swain was in court.

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