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West Country (E)

Major decline in West Country bee species

A bumble bee. Credit: PA

75% of the most threatened bee species have been lost to some of the region's counties.

A report by nature conservation charity Buglife says the large garden bumblebee (Bombus ruderatus) is still found in Gloucestershire and Somerset, but over the past 50 years has disappeared from Dorset and the far South West.

The increased use of pesticides and unpredictable weather have contributed to their decline.

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Homes could be built on national parks without planning permission

Managers in charge of our National Parks in Devon say they're 'outraged' at planning changes, which could mean thousands of new houses on Dartmoor and Exmoor.

Unoccupied farm buildings could be converted into homes without the need for planning permission, which could change the face of the landscape. John Andrews reports.

Thousands of homes could be built on National Parks

Bosses at both National Parks in Devon say they're 'outraged' at planning changes which could mean thousands of new homes on Dartmoor and Exmoor.

Unoccupied farm buildings could be converted into homes without the need for planning permission. Kevin Bishop, from the National Park Authorities, says they're worried about the extra traffic, pressure on local schools, and other demands on local authorities.

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Farmers fears over EU farm policy changes

There's a battle brewing in the countryside following a Government decision to divert European subsidies away from payments to farmers, and spend them on environmental schemes instead.

But it seems the decision hasn't pleased anyone.

Farmers fear changing the subsidies could mean they struggle against their European counterparts.

But environmentalists say the decision doesn't go far enough to protect wildlife.

John Andrews has been assessing the potential impact of the changes.

Hopes for EU farming grants

The south west's small farmers are hoping for good news on grants today.

The government is expected to switch more money from the European Common Agricultural Policy to grants for looking after the landscape and wildlife.

The south west gets more money than any other region for so-called environmental stewardship schemes.

The south west's small farmers are hoping for good news on grants today. Credit: ITV News West Country

Tarr Steps made safe

The ancient stone footbridge on Exmoor has been rebuilt. Some steps had been washed away just months after £10,000 had been spent repairing damage from previous flooding.

But local businesses are upset it took more than seven weeks to repair it and say trade has been badly damaged.

They've been washed away twice this year but the famous Tarr Steps on Exmoor are this evening open to walk acoss once again
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