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  1. John Ryall

Report warns of floods & rising seas over next century

A stark new report from erosion experts has concluded that rising sea levels will wash away beaches flooding hundreds of homes and businesses over the next 100 years, unless there is massive investment in new flood defences on the Sussex coast.

The scientists examined the five miles of coast between Brighton Marina and Shoreham in their research.

However, some business leaders say the warnings are 'alarmist' - and that the report could drive down property values.

The interviewees in John Ryall's report are: Councillor Ollie Sykes from Brighton & Hove City Council (Green); John Davey, Harbour Master at Brighton Marina; and Patrick Kneath, a property consultant.


Helicopter to spray woodland in plan to eradicate caterpillar 'pests'

The Oak Processionary Moth can cause a threat to Credit: Mark Townsend/Gristwood & Toms.

The Forestry Commission is planning to spray woodland near Pangbourne in West Berkshire to eradicate a pesky species of caterpillar. The Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) caterpillars can eat the leaves off entire trees, leaving the trees vulnerable to other pests and diseases.

A helicopter will spray the woodland twice over 7 to 14 days in May. This is the time of year when OPM caterpillars typically emerge from eggs in oak trees. As well as being a risk to trees the 'pests' can cause a painful rash in humans and animals. Eye and throat problems have also been reported.

The area to be sprayed includes Herridge's and Broom Copses and other trees nearby. The Forestry Commission, along with West Berkshire Council are reassuring the public that the spray which is a bacterial agent occurring naturally and widely in soil poses no risk to humans or animals.


Trees help supermarket become 'lowest carbon branch'

Yateley Wood is helping to power Waitrose in Bracknell. Credit: Andrew Pate

The Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Gregory Barker MP, will open the new energy centre at Waitrose Bracknell today.

Mr Barker will be shown the latest 'green' technologies that make it the supermarket's lowest carbon branch and discuss how the sector can be more energy efficient.

The store now gets all its energy from locally grown wood, from plantations such as Yateley Wood (above), which is then chipped.

Could the humble blue tit save the conker?

It's that time of the year already - when playgrounds are filled with young people playing conkers. But the tradition could be under threat because of an alien moth invasion.

The leaf-mining moth is causing our horse chestnuts to produce smaller conkers. But experts now believe Blue Tits could hold the key to keeping the caterpillars under control. Mel Bloor explains.

County Council Environment spokesman 'disappointed' at Dartford toll rises

The Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Environment has issued a statement about plans to raise toll prices for the Dratford crossing.

Bryan Sweetland said: “Congestion at the Dartford Crossing and its approaches costs the UK economy some £40million every year and is now a serious hindrance to encouraging economic growth in North Kent.”

"I am concerned that toll charges at the Dartford Crossing are being increased without any improvement to the congestion problems. I am even more concerned that the introduction of ‘free-flow tolling’ has been delayed yet again and is not now planned until the autumn of 2014, when the original date given was late 2012. I would urge the DfT to do all they can to improve on the autumn 2014 date.

“The Government has made a firm commitment to look at the longer term capacity of the crossing and I welcome that.

"Their own statistics show that the crossing was at over capacity for more than two thirds of the year.

"The benefits of an additional Thames crossing would not only help alleviate the severe congestion currently faced by road users, it would also act as a catalyst to unlock much needed investment opportunities in the Thames Gateway region and help boost business and employment prospects in Dartford, Swanley and Gravesend.

“However, to put this into perspective, as things stand at the moment, my granddaughter who starts nursery school this week, is likely to be starting university before any additional crossing is built.

"Overall, local residents, businesses and road users will share my disappointment over this announcement and I call on the new Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to address these very significant concerns as soon as possible."

– Bryan Sweetland, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Waste
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