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The fracking fracas rumbles on...

MPs have voted to allow fracking under National Parks like the South Downs. But the actual drilling would have to done OUTSIDE the area..

The government say it'll protect "our most precious landscapes" but anti-fracking campaigners are furious. Phil Hornby reports.

  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

Brighton homes open for eco tourists

Are your heating bills too high? Do you wonder why there's always a draught blowing round the house? Well perhaps you could pick up some inspiration from a series of "eco buildings" that are open to the public in Brighton and Hove tomorrow and next weekend. This from David Johns.

He speaks to home owner (and architect) Mark Pellant; project organiser Caroline Schofield; and Interior Designer Claire Potter.

Green groups backing safeguarding plans for HS2

Green groups are backing plans for better safeguards to minimise environmental impacts that could be caused by HS2.

It comes after the Environmental Audit Committee put forward a report saying that as much as possible needs to be done to lessen the damage on the countryside if HS2 goes ahead.

Ralph Smyth, the Campaign to Protect Rural England's senior transport campaigner said:

We have been calling for environmental funding to be ring-fenced in HS2's budget since 2011 and it's disappointing that the Government has been unwilling to take this forward. We are pleased that MP's are supporting our call. With Parliament set to vote on HS2 later this month, the Department for Transport will need to come up with an adequate response quickly if it wants to keep the project on track.

Many improvements to HS2's route and improvements to environmental protection, such as more tunnelling and putting transmission lines under ground to protect the landscape, and more noise barriers to protect rural tranquillity, have been refused by HS2 Ltd on the basis of their cost. But the company refused to answer CPRE's requests for information about costs, telling us it would be 'manifestly unreasonable' to respond. It is heartening that MP's have come to our aid by saying it should be up to Parliament, not HS2 Ltd, to say what is and isn't reasonable.

– Ralph Smyth, Campaign to Protect Rural England


Safeguards needed to protect countryside if HS2 is built

Better safeguards are needed if environmental impacts of the proposed HS2 rail route are to be minimised, according to the Environmental Audit Committee.

It wants Parliament, in its capacity as the planning authority, to ensure everything possible is done to lessen the damage on the countryside.

Chair of the Committe, Joan Walley MP said:

*The Government needs to show real commitment to dealing with the impact that HS2 will have on our countryside and wildlife. Ancient woodlands and other hard to replace sites of natural value should not be subordinated to crude economic calculations of cost and benefit. It is imperative that an infrastructure project on such a large scale implements proper environmental safeguards and ensures that impacts are minimised. This means adopting stringent, enforceable standards and setting aside adequate funding. *

– Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee Joan Walley, MP

The HS2 Hybrid Bill will be given its second reading on the 28th April, after which it will be referred to a dedicated select committee to examine 'petitions' against it.

Beach litter up: Includes Bulletproof vest, tv & dentures

Beach litter is on the increase according to the Marine Conservation Society

Volunteers involved in cleaning up Britain's beaches collected more than two hundred thousand items in just one weekend.

The figures have come in a report from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) which organised the 'Beachwatch Big Weekend 2013' last September. A total of 224,405 items were collected.

Litter found on one of the region's beaches

It was the twentieth annual Beachwatch event organised by the organisation. The MCS said that beach litter was increasing and that behaviour needed to change. Lauren Eyles from the MCS said:

"It's coming in from the sea, being blown from the land or simply being dumped and dropped. After 20 years of campaigning it's disheartening that in 2013 we are seeing worse litter levels than ever.

"As well as half a TV, a French bulletproof vest and a pack of bacon, there was a brass candlestick, some plastic bird feet, a birdcage, a bath plug, half a canoe and a set of dentures,"

"Plastic is a real issue for our oceans and beaches. This year we also picked up lots of lids and caps. However, despite it being a really warm summer, we saw less crisp, sweets and lolly wrappers and fewer plastic bottles."

"The more we build in flood plains and don't get more sustainable drainage... flooding is always going to be a worry."

Oxfordshire County Council is to hold a summit about how to tackle any flooding in the future. The move follows the flooding experienced by residents and business owners in last week's storms and floods.

Businesses in Oxfordshire have lost tens of millions of pounds - through loss of trade.

The flood summit will look at ways to make sure the area gets the funding it needs to bolster flood defences. Councillors are hoping to secure

In the following interview Councillor Rodney Rose from Oxfordshire County Council told ITV Meridian presenter Fred Dinenage that flooding is always going to be a worry - the more we build in flood plains, but don't provide more sustainable drainage or other similar schemes.

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