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Tonight... - so it's goodbye from me -
Changing the way the south-west's landscape is managed -
we'll reveal why some of the region's upland areas
could be allowed to return to their natural state.
And we'll be asking what it could mean for farmers
who are currently paid to look after upland areas.
Also tonight - the drug smuggler given Christmas leave
This Plymouth drug dealer is now on the run -
but why was Blake Donnellan, jailed for 15 years,
Flying at night - we'll find out why air ambulance crews are now able
Sleeping bag, couple of water butt. Mike -- couple of water bottles...
And the injured military men from Devon conquering memories
Vast areas of blanket bog, upland heaths and oak woods.
The mixture of heath and grassland surrounding these areas make
the tors and valleys important havens for rare plants and animals.
The management and farming of these wilds have altered the fauna
of these uplands over the centuries, but that could be about to change.
Parts of Dartmoor and Exmoor could be "returned to the wild" according
The 25-year plan for nature could see subsidies paid
to farmers being cut, allowing the areas to return
It comes at a time when all subsidies for farming could change
as a result of the vote to leave the EU.
Our Environment Correspondent Adrian Campbell reports.
The wide open uplands of the south-west are
But when it comes to making a profit from this land,
Some farmers have benefited from subsidies, but since the Brexit
vote everything is suddenly up for debate.
However, it shouldn't be forgotten that the uplands provide
us with some important and often hidden benefits.
This is sphagnum moss found here on the edge of Exmoor.
It is really useful to all of us, because it attracts moisture
Once upon a time nobody put a price tag on this kind of thing,
Farmers and environmental groups such as the RSPB have worked closely
to protect this part of Exmoor over years, but they know
Robin Milton is an upland farmer and the vice-chairman
Let's remember it is a living, working landscape.
I think it would be very, very poor of us to consider actually
any forms of what could be construed as land abandonment.
I'm not entirely sure that would deliver what we expect.
But abandonment and re-wilding of the uplands may be on the agenda
as the Government considers how to manage our countryside
One option could be to plant more trees.
Wildlife organisations say the Government needs
The uplands should be the most favoured areas
for government investment, cos they deliver so much more
Flood protection, nature, all the incredible acts so that
people can spend their leisure time out here.
In a way they should be the favoured areas for farming investment.
We contacted Defra and asked them about their plans
They told us they couldn't say farming will continue as before.
That's because they've just started work on a 25-year plan
which they aim to publish at the end of the year.
Well, today the Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom pledged
that the number of rules farmers have to follow will be cut once
That may be good news for some south-west farmers,
but there's still uncertainty about whether farmers
here will continue to receive the money they currently
Our Environment Correspondent Adrian Campbell joins us now.
What do you make of what she said today? Since the Brexit vote I think
it is fair to say that farmers have been looking for political guidance
about what is going to happen. Today they got an inkling about it. This
emphasis on environmental controls, more freeing up of farmers so they
can take on world markets. That is the kind of message that Ms Leadsom
had to say today. She is very keen to roll back the control on farmers.
I will be looking at scrapping the rules that hold us back,
and focusing instead on what works best with the United Kingdom.
No more six-foot EU billboards littering the landscape.
No more existential debates to determine what counts
Adrian, you talk to people in the farming near the all the time, what
have they been saying generally about Brexit? They tend to be rather
cagey about how they voted. Although it is thought that younger farmers
have most to gain from the changes that are coming, they may want to
embrace these new world markets opening up to them, and other
important thing to remember is that billions of pounds of grant aid are
at stake here. That has been very important for supposed farmers for
many years now. Adrian, thank you very much.
Police officers have criticised a decision to give a prolific
south-west drug smuggler Christmas release from prison.
He was jailed for 15 years for bringing large
quantities of Class A drugs into the region from Manchester.
The Police Federation says such criminals should serve
Our Home Affairs Correspondent Simon Hall reports.
Blake Donnellan was supposed to be in prison at Sudbury and Derbyshire
serving a 15-year sentence for smuggling drugs
But he was released for 24 hours on Christmas Day,
Donnellan was one of the leaders of a gang which made tens
of thousands of pounds ringing cocaine and other Class A drugs
At the time of his conviction in 2011, police said a major supply
ring had been broken by one of the biggest investigations
It involved more phonework than we have ever done before,
Donnellan was described as a career criminal and was once banned
from Devon and Cornwall for ten years because of his activities.
Police began an extensive covert surveillance operation
to convict him along with four other members of his gang.
In public, Devon and Cornwall police aren't commenting
on Donnellan absconding, saying it's a matter
But, in private, senior officers I've spoken to have expressed anger,
saying a great deal of work went into convicting him and raising
concerns that Donnellan may quickly return to criminality.
In a statement, the Ministry of Justice said...
"All offenders must meet strict criteria, pass a full risk
"assessment before being considered for release on temporary licence."
Anyone who thinks they see Donnellan is asked to call
Now a round-up of other news from around the south-west tonight.
27-year-old Tanis Bhandari was stabbed to death two years ago
At the time of the murder one of his two killers,
Donald Pemberton, was out on licence from prison.
Now Tanis's mother Andrea Sharpe has petitioned the Prime Minister
calling for a probation service report on his supervision
Alison Hernandez, the Devon and Cornwall Police
and Crime Commissioner, has been questioned under caution
She is being investigated over allegations about election expenses
when she was the campaign agent for the Torbay
A report will be presented to the Independent Police
The Royal Cornwall Hospital has reached Level Four,
It means there are not enough beds to cope with the number
People are being asked to use walk-in centres for minor
Hospitals in Taunton and Yeovil are also working at full capacity.
Pranksters put up these blow-up skeletons after they becoming fed up
Locals in Bude were told it would be put in three years ago.
The skeletons have now been taken down and the contractors
The Devon poet Alice Oswald has won a prestigious national prize. She
was honoured by judges in the cost of words. They said they were in awe
of her collection called falling awake which explores the themes of
nature and mortality. It's no secret that major changes
to the way health services are run The Government's asked health bosses
to come up with ways of saving money and making sure more people
are treated out of hospital - Nothing has been decided yet,
but some town councils in North Devon are worried that any
cuts to services at North Devon District Hospital
could put lives at risk. As a result they're holding a series
of public meetings urging local people to join the campaign
against the proposals. Tonight there's one in Northam,
and Janine Jansen has been talking Yes, the meeting starts at 7pm, some
not quite yet. People are expected to arrive soon. Joining me now is
Philip Wearne from the Save Our Hospital Services. How worried are
people about potential changes to North Devon District Hospital in
Barnstable? Extremely. It took 50 or 60 years to build up the special
services and we could lose them in a matter of months. Which services are
you most concerned about? Consultant paediatrics, consultant led
maternity, acute stroke, special baby care, neonatal. What would it
mean if the services were cut because this is an incredibly rural
area. It has a big increase in population in the summer with
tourism. It needs to attract businesses and young families which
is unlikely to do but also paediatrics and consultant led by
charity. It would basically mean that people died or are seriously
impaired as a result having to travel to Exeter or both. Health
bosses say they haven't announced the plans yet. They are talking
about them. They are letting people know and they will be consultation
in public on them. Tips is already happening. We have lost 40 acute
beds at Devon North district. We have lost seven services to
nonemergency services, non-acute services from North Devon and they
are deciding things in the next few weeks and will be presented to the
as fait accompli. Chris Leather is the mirror. The threat affects
everybody here. It is serious. One of the most worrying thing is in the
area for a long time. Some people say the NHS isn't affordable and has
to be streamlined and tested change with the times. It is how the money
is spent and managed. I would like to see more management at local
level as it used to be years ago. Many people are you expecting
tonight? Think we will fill the hole. Capacity 200 and probably we
will have to turn some way. -- Hall. Thank you. We'll have a report about
tonight 's meeting in the late news for you at PM. -- 1030.
And later this month we have a week of special programmes looking
at the way the health service works here in the south-west.
We'll have unprecedented access behind the scenes to see how
pressures on one part of the NHS can have a knock-on effect elsewhere
That's coming up on Spotlight from 16 January.
Life-saving rescue missions by Devon's air ambulance are now
Thanks to a ?1 million investment, the pilots now have night-vision
goggles and the first of what will be hundreds of floodlit
Kirk England has been up with one of the crews.
The golden lights of the North Devon town of Chulmleigh.
A scene from the Devon air ambulance.
Now the work of the pilots and paramedics on board doesn't
What's made flying at night possible is a growing number of floodlit
community landing sites which make it easier, faster and safer
Chulmleigh's playing field is good enough.
Lit by a specially installed floodlight,
We are a rural community, a long way from hospitals.
Barnstaple and Exeter are our two main hospitals.
Ambulances take 20, 30 minutes or so to get here,
I think a lot of people know how good and how valuable and essential
the services we provide during the daylight.
The reality is up until last month we couldn't do that at night.
People still have their accidents, they still get
And we wanted to be able to respond to them even when it was dark.
And this network of community landing sites we can now help
patients in Devon even when it is dark.
The helicopter has been adapted to fly at night,
pilots trained and supplied with special night vision goggles.
At the moment teams clock off at midnight, but it's hoped that
in the next few years they'll be responding to emergencies
We take a poignant journey back to Syria in a moment
Plus an epic arctic climb for two injured military men.
And, coming up, I'm at Sandy Park as the team get ready
for what could be their toughest test of the season.
If you'd been seriously injured while working in Syria,
seen a colleague blown up just metres from where you were standing,
and had a million-dollar bounty on your head,
Well, none of that has put off photographer
He was wounded in an explosion in Homs in 2012 in which acclaimed
He's just returned to the Syrian border for the first time since that
attack as part of a convoy taking out vital medical equipment.
The trip was organised by Devon doctor Mark Hannaford.
They're now back home and they've been describing their journey.
One of the big parts of the convoy was to make a statement to the
Syrian people that they are not forgotten about and that people do
care. The journey itself, we set off from London 2600 miles, ten
different countries, a few interesting border crossings, a
major blizzard. I think the evening we were trapped in the snow when we
got to the untapped and had handed over this... Was it six babies? They
were frozen to death in TQ to get into Turkey that night. We had been
into an area that was surrounded by a ring of steel, artillery. As the
days went on it became insanity. The buildings around us were falling.
Most of the people we had gone in with were dead so we said... We woke
in the morning about 7am and within minutes a rocket hit about 100
metres one side and 100 metres the other side. 30 seconds later two
more rockets hit maybe 50 metres away and by now the building was
starting to rumble. I wanted my camera so I ran through looking in
the rubble and found my bag and got my camera, run back in. The corridor
behind me exploded. That was taken out. Then a shell hit a direct hit
about four metres or five metres from where I was standing. But about
two metres away. It was an almighty, I can't really describe the
intensity of the explosion. But I was still standing there. When it
comes down. This thought something was a bit in my leg like a stone, my
hand came out to the other side of my leg. I went to look for Marie and
I fell and landed on top of her. Since I have been out I have been a
complete thorn in the side of everyone trying to get them to act
on Syria. So when the opportunity came with the convoy I have no
hesitation. They said yes before I knew why we were going to Syria.
Yes, I will go back. Because they gave everything to get me out. The
chance to go back and actually do something, physically help, yet, it
was all I needed. Mark here had it all sorted. I'm just glad they got
him in because it was a tough thing to do in that time scale. Yeah, the
fundraising initially was ?91,000 the target. No time we did final
tally, what came in will be closer to a quarter of a million. The
public response was amazing. We have certainly been looking at what we
can do next to provide further support. A cunning plan! A stunning
plan! While Plymouth Argyle's trip
to Liverpool may be dominating the sporting headlines
in the south-west this week, there's also a huge rugby match
coming up for the Exeter Chiefs. They take on Premiership champions
Saracens off the back of two great Andy Birkett has been
along to Sandy Park. The Chiefs crashed into the festive
season full of cheer, thrashing Leicester
on Christmas Eve. New Year's Eve and there
was more of the same. This time it was a
dramatic last-gasp win Each win saw them leapfrog
their opponents in the table. Now, with a trip to the European
and Premiership champions next, We didn't always have the best
of starts to the season, and I think it seems we have
pulled it together. A lot of people say we were quite
lucky on the weekend, but we stayed in it for 80 minutes
and I think that's It doesn't matter when you score
your points, as long as by the end I think the team is in a good space
at the moment to really get a bit of confidence,
go up there looking forward When the two teams met
here at Sandy Park at the start of the season, Sarries ran
out convincing winners. But the Chiefs' form has really
picked up in the last few weeks, and now is as good a time as any
to take them on again. Often at this time of year
it is about turning up with the right attitude,
the right energy, in the right frame of mind
and you genuinely give it a real go. And that gives us a foothold,
and once you have got a foothold you can start to make your decisions
during the game. We have focused far more on that
than trying to devise some clever plan, because,
you know, most of what Saracens can Not only are these games
exciting for the players, When two Premiership
heavyweights go head-to-head. Two former Royal Marines from Devon,
who had to retire on medical grounds, are setting off tomorrow
as part of a five-man military team to climb the highest
mountain in Antarctica. Danny Claricoates and James
Nightingale both fought in two James was shot in the jaw,
while Danny had post-traumatic stress after witnessing two friends
killed by a roadside bomb. Johnny Rutherford has been to see
how Danny is preparing This was a spot training
for the five-man team last year in Chamonix,
France. Their mission to raise money
for the Royal Marines charity by climbing the highest peak
in Antarctica, Mount Vincent, which is no mean feat at more
than half the height of Mount But for ex-Royal Marine Danny
Claricoates it's much more In 2007 he fought in Afghanistan
and was awarded the Military Cross. I've come home, 18 months later went
back out to Afghanistan And during that tour two lads,
two friends of mine in my team So, yeah, that was the
turning point for me. That's where it all sort
of finished for me. Post-traumatic stress disorder
brought a premature end There are days sometimes where
I just don't want to get out of bed. You just sort of pull the duvet
over your head and just, you know, you just want to give up on life,
but by doing something like this it gives me
something to work towards, Danny wants to use the expedition
to make more people aware It's about addressing the stigma,
it's about educating that actually We are able to own our own
businesses and work for a living The extreme challenge to get
to the top of the bottom There is a part of me
that is a bit jealous, I think the Antarctic
would be a bit harsh for me. Although Sarah herself is no
stranger to physical challenges, as she won a bronze medal
at the Invictus Games last year. I know for Danny with his PTSD,
I have seen for myself how much he benefits
from being in the outdoors. We've both been to Everest
base camp together. And personally for his
rehabilitation, and just for his self-confidence,
his self-esteem, the benefits Walking axe, sleeping bag,
couple of water bottles... The team hope to reach
the summit by next Friday. Cos once a Royal Marine,
always a Royal Marine. That report from Johnny Rutherford,
and all being well we're hoping to talk to Danny from the Antarctic
sometime next week. We wish them well. Let's find out
what the weather is doing closer to home. Nowhere near as cold. But it
will get a little bit chillier? Probably not as cold as it was
earlier in the week but another fast as possible. At the moment a good
cover of cloud helping keep temperatures up but it is clearing.
These were pictures from earlier in the week. We had some sunshine. I
think the cloud has made a bit of a different sort of a day to day and I
think tomorrow we may return to the sort of pictures with more sunshine.
We could well start with Prost. Not everywhere. Dry and find for most of
us and we will see some sunshine. The boundary between where the
riverfront clears and where we get the clear skies and the low
temperatures could give us a risk of ice bowl tonight and at first
tomorrow. Watch out for that particularly on the minor roads
which may not have had treatment. A lot happening at the moment. Weather
front drifting in from the North already producing some light rain
and drizzle but it does clear from all but parts of Cornwall during the
course of the night and at first tomorrow morning but it is still
there around the middle of the day. Further east the best of the
sunshine will be Dorset and Somerset. Closer to this area of
high pressure which is on the move. It will probably clear quite simply
by the end of Friday allowing mild air to arrive and also a lot of
cloud and outbreaks of rain. We do get westerly winds which gives us a
lot of cloud. That is the cover of cloud we have got in the last few
hours. Some holes in the cloud through Wales and parts of Somerset
and Dorset, already breaking up. It will gradually move westwards but
not really clear from Cornwall particularly the west by the end of
the night. Where we do see the clear skies we will see quite a sharp
frost and we're looking at pretty low temperatures. Crossing were
eastern of Devon and parts of Somerset and the north of Dorset we
could see temperatures as low as minus five or minus six. Further
west with all the cloud cover of cloud will be just about free. It is
the boundary line through parts of east Cornwall and the West of Devon
where we will see some clearance but also enough moisture for a few icy
stretches on roads and pavements. Tomorrow the best of the sunshine is
underused. A lot of cloud affecting Cornwall particularly in the West
and Isles of Scilly. The band of cloud will slowly go back towards
London during the course of the day and eventually cloud the skies
across West Devon. The best of the sunshine in East Devon and Somerset
and Dorset. Temperature is where it starts really cold struggling. Light
winds. Four or five across parts of Somerset. Up to double figures in
the far West of Cornwall. But the Isles of Scilly it is rather cloudy
and we continue to see a risk of a few showers here and there. Surfing
conditions aren't brilliant tomorrow. Up to about two feet on
the north coast. A bit choppy along the south coast. A southerly breeze
which will gradually pick up along the course of the day. South or
south-easterly for most of us. 3-4 and generally fair with good
visibility. Let's look at the forecast a little bit further ahead.
Freddie looks like it will be much milder but rather cloudy and
outbreaks of rain, some of that being quite widespread through the
afternoon. Saturday is a bit brighter and still a lot of cloud. I
think the weekend ahead it is mild, quiet but at times rather cloudy.
Make the most of the sunshine tomorrow. Have a good evening. We
will have news from Northam and the public meeting concerning possible
help cuts in the late news at 10:30pm. Good night.
as he explores Naples, Venice and Florence.
It's like we're walking through a giant's armpit.
We can follow the escape route of Michelangelo.
Mildred is our first student from a non-witching family.