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Puffins are main attraction as Farne Islands re-open

Farne puffins. Credit: National Trust

The Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast, will open to visitors today, offering the opportunity to see Puffins.

Warm spring temperatures have seen Puffins returning to their breeding grounds on the Farne Islands early for the second year running.

It is thought that the milder weather that we've been experiencing recently could well be a contributing factor.

For the past two years the milder weather has brought Puffins back to their breeding grounds earlier than expected. If the mild weather continues it could very well indicate the start of a successful breeding season. The Farne Islands are home to around 40,000 pairs of puffins during spring and summer."

– Becky Hetherington, Head Ranger for the Northumberland Coast

In Pictures: new rail factory on schedule and on time

The final piece of track leading to the Hitachi factory Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
Final piece of track that will link the Hitachi factory with the rail network Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
Photocall for some of the workers who have worked on the project Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
The line that links the factory with the main rail network Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

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Newton Aycliffe factory on right track for completion

On track for completion Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A County Durham factory where hundreds of train carriages will be built is on target to be completed.

The final part of the track connecting the Hitachi factory at Newton Aycliffe to the rail network was laid today.

When it's finished the building will become the company's main European factory for train manufacturing, employing 700 people.

It will be the base for constructing the new Great Western Main Line and East Coast Main Line trains .

Hitachi train factory 'on track' to open in 2015

The construction of a train factory in County Durham, where hundreds of new train carriages will be built for Intercity and ScotRail contracts, is on target to be completed later this year.

Hundreds of train carriages will be built at the site in Newton Aycliffe

More than 700 people will work at the plant in Newton Aycliffe, where hundreds of new train carriages will be built.

Today the final part of the track will be installed, connecting the factory to the rail network for the first time.

Flood alert for Northumberland coast

A flood alert has been issued by the Environment Agency for the Northumberland Coast between Berwick and St Mary's Lighthouse at Whitley Bay.

Low lying coastal land and roads will be affected first.

The alert is in force for the high tides on Saturday, March 21, at 3.47 am and 3.55 pm.

High spring tides along with northerly winds mean that spray and large waves are possible in low lying coastal areas in particular at Beadnell Harbour Road North.

Currently there are no plans to close the flood gates at Warkworth.

North East beaches cleaned up

Sunrise on Blyth beach, Northumberland Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Archive/Press Association Images

After a push to clean up beaches the amount of rubbish on the North East coasts has fallen by 27% in the last year.

The Marine Conservation Society, who conducted the survey, credit more than 5000 volunteers across the UK for the change.

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North East has the most 'duck feeders' in UK, but there's fears their kindness could kill

Experts warn that bread is 'junk food' for ducks and should be swapped for more natural treats Credit: PA Images

It's much loved pastime but one which experts today say could destroy both health and habitat.

Feeding the ducks results in tonnes of bread being thrown into the region's rivers and streams, potentially polluting the water and threatening ducks' lives.

Feeding the ducks is especially popular in the North East Credit: PA Images

It's emerged that 84 per cent of people in the North East have fed ducks with more than thee quarters (87%) of them using bread as the treat.

The Canal & River Trust estimates that each year 6 million loaves of bread, equal to 20 double decker buses, are thrown into the nation's waterways.

The Trust is now calling on kind-hearted duck lovers to swap bread for more natural treats like oats, corn, or defrosted frozen peas and also exercise portion control to avoid overfeeding.

Bread can be harmful to a ducks' health as it's nothing like their natural diet and is the equivalent of junk food.

The uneaten soggy bread can cause a build-up of bad nutrients spreading disease and attracting pests such as rats.

Experts fear rivers, such as the River Wear (pictured), can become 'clogged' by uneaten bread Credit: PA Images

Throwing bread into a canal or river can lead to overcrowding of bird populations which can cause stress to the birds, damage their habitat, and create excessive amounts of bird faeces which causes harmful algae which clogs the canal.

MP wants Blaydon landfill site shutdown

Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson has called for the closure of a landfill site in Gateshead following concerns about the amount of rubbish blown into the surrounding area.

People living near Blaydon Quarry say it is ruining their environment.

During a meeting this afternoon, involving the police and Gateshead Council, the Environment Agency confirmed it was considering legal action.

Octagon Green Solutions, which runs the site, has declined to comment.

Two more swans found dead in River Wear

Swans are thought to have been poisoned Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Two more swans have been found dead in County Durham, bringing the overall number thought to have been poisoned to more than 50.

The deaths began in October 2013 but have increased over the last few weeks on the River Wear at Chester-le-Street and at Herrington Country Park.

Initial test results suggest lead poisoning but it's not known how or why the swans are being harmed.

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York awarded £475,000 to make cleaner buses for city

More buses in York are to be converted into electric vehicles thanks to a £475,000 grant from the Government.

The Department of Transport's Clean Vehicle Technology fund will now enable the conversation of an additional five buses into ‘zero emission motion’ – meaning electric motors. Operating costs of the electric buses will save over £75,000 a year.

The converted buses are quieter and emit no pollution from the tailpipe as they run entirely on electric motors and battery packs. The electric range is more than enough to complete a full day of touring and the buses will trickle charge overnight at their depot, using low carbon off peak electricity.

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