04/01/2017 Spotlight


The latest news, sport, weather and features from the South West of England.

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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.


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