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Anti-fracking protesters bring out the big guns

The anti-fracking campaigner, fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, took her battle to the Oxfordshire home of the Prime Minister today.

She took the controls and drove a white army tank through Enstone and headed towards David Cameron's upmarket house in the village of Dean. It was her protest over the approval of fracking licences in more than two dozen locations.

The 74-year-old designer was joined by a group of demonstrators wearing gas masks who are calling for the decision to be overturned. Mel Bloor reports.

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Anti-fracking campaigners protest outside David Cameron's home

Anti-fracking campaigners make their point Credit: Mel Bloor

The anti-fracking campaigner, fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, took her battle to the Oxfordshire home of the Prime Minister today.

She protested outside David Cameron's upmarket house in the village of Dean. It was her protest over the approval of fracking licences in more than two dozen locations.

The 74-year-old designer was joined by a group of demonstrators wearing gas masks who are calling for the decision to be overturned.

Fracking protesters drive tank to David Cameron's house

Vivienne Westwood arrives on a tank Credit: PA

Anti-fracking protesters have driven a tank to Prime Minister David Cameron's constituency home.

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood was on board the tank to support the demonstration.

Vivienne Westwood leads the demonstration Credit: PA

The protest outside Mr Cameron's Oxfordshire home is in opposition to the drilling for shale gas - a process known as fracking.

There are concerns that chemicals used during the drilling could harm the environment.

Vivienne Westwood makes her point Credit: PA

Planners reject Sussex drilling scheme

Planners have rejected a bid by a shale company to explore for oil and gas in the South Downs National Park. Celtique Energie put in a planning application for a site near Fernhurst, West Sussex, to drill a temporary vertical well to test for oil and gas.

The controversial plan, which attracted more than 5,500 objections, could also have led to the drilling of a horizontal well extending out from it.

But members of the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) heeded their officers' recommendations and turned down the application overwhelmingly.

Cheers and applause broke out among opponents fearful that the plan could have led to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, taking place if the drilling had been successful.

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National Trust: Protect nature reserves from fracking

Nature reserves are not currently among the protected fracking areas. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive

The National Trust has welcomed new government guidelines dictating that applications for fracking in protected areas such as National Parks should be refused in all but "exceptional" circumstances.

The organisation said it was "right" that the Government addressed concerns about the impact on "special places", but called for the measures to be extended to nature reserves and other wildlife sites.

This is a significant change in approach from DECC. We hope it will reflect a much more cautious approach that recognises the risks of turning some of the most special places in the country over to industrial scale extraction of shale gas and oil.

– Richard Hebditch, National Trust

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Weather: Storms return to bring lively start to the week

A lively start to the week with intense thundery rain through the south-east already - and further downpours in places this afternoon.

A few scattered, light showers will drift through Northern Ireland, the West Country and Wales.

Elsewhere a fine, bright day with sunshine. Looking good in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games.

Highs of 22C in the north and 25C in the south, but muggy with the thundery air.

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'Giant loophole could allow fracking in National Parks'

Campaigners have argued that rules protecting National Parks from fracking could be bypassed due to a "giant loophole".

Many local communities have shown resistance to plans for fracking in their areas. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive

The Government has said fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and the Broads should be refused other than in "exceptional circumstances and in the public interest".

But environmentalists warned that as ministers have indicated that developing shale gas and oil resources is in the interests of the country, the rules could allow fracking in protected areas.

Official guidance states that if proposed development for shale oil or gas would lead to substantial harm or to loss of a World Heritage Site, planners should refuse consent "unless wholly exceptional circumstances apply".

Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale said: "By introducing an exception under a vague 'public interest' case, they've created a giant loophole that could allow fracking all over these protected areas, potentially causing serious environmental damage to our unique natural heritage."

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