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.
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'.
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.
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.