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Helicopter dusts woodland to stop toxic caterpillars

by Cary Johnston

A cloud of chemicals has been sprayed over parts of Berkshire today to halt the spread of a toxic caterpillar. The Oak Processionary Moth destroys trees and causes severe itching and rashes in humans and animals.

The area affected - is in Sulham Woods in Pangbourne near Reading. Two spots were sprayed today, but the operation has been delayed a number of times this year, because of the weather.

However, the use of chemicals has concerned environmental groups - who say other creatures, not just the caterpillars and moths, will be harmed. Cary Johnston reports.

Additional footage supplied by Tony Duckett

Additional still provided by Henry Kuppen

Vandal throws wood at driver's cab

cab
The driver in the cab was injured Credit: Dan Panes

Vandals have attacked another high speed train - this time injuring the driver. Earlier this week the windscreen of a train was shattered on the line between Portsmouth and Salisbury.

In the latest incident this afternoon a piece of wood was thrown at the window of a First Great Western service travelling between Pangbourne and Didcot. No passengers were injured. British Transport Police said the vandalism could have had 'catastrophic consequences'.

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

Oak Processionary Moth
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.

New pictures: Missing Timothy Painter

Timothy Painter Credit: Jill Painter

The family and girlfriend of a man who went missing from hospital are making renewed calls this morning for help finding him.

Timothy Alexander Painter, of Meadowside Road, Pangbourne, was last seen on Thursday, March 21st, near Asda in Honey End Lane in the Prospect Park area just before 10am.

Timothy Painter Credit: Jill Painter

Family repeat calls to find missing man

Timothy Alexander Painter Credit: Thames Valley Police

The family and girlfriend of a man who went missing from hospital are making renewed calls this morning for help finding him.

Timothy Alexander Painter, of Meadowside Road, Pangbourne, was last seen on Thursday, March 21st, near Asda in Honey End Lane in the Prospect Park area just before 10am.

He is described as white, 6ft 2ins, average build with short dark hair, thinning on top with sideburns and he has green/blue eyes.

He was last seen wearing dark trousers, possibly a bright blue t-shirt, brown jumper and distinctive dark trainers with white soles and white laces.

CCTV footage captures Timothy in an Asda store Credit: Thames Valley Police

If you know of Timothy’s whereabouts, please call the 24-hour Police Enquiry Centre on 101 and quote URN 817 of 21 March.

TRAVEL - TRAINS: First Great Western Reading & Oxford

There is disruption on First Great Western trains running between Reading and Oxford due to over running engineering works between Tilehurst and Pangbourne. Trains heading towards Oxford will not call at Pangbourne.

Buses run from Tilehurst to Pangbourne, and passengers for Pangbourne travelling from London or Reading should travel to Tilehurst and use these buses.

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