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The wildlife rich heath lands of Dorset are facing a major threat from a proposed largescale housing development.

The plan to build 1,350 homes at Holton Heath near Wareham is regarded as potentially disastrous by leading conservationists, but the local council says it must push through the plans to meet its government-allocated housing target.

Health and safety inspectors have demanded higher safety standards from eight rail companies as official figures showed more trains were passing red signals. Virgin West Coast and Cross Country, Silverlink, Scotrail, Arriva Northern, Central Trains and West Anglia Great Northern are included on the hit list.

The Environment Agency has called for a big increase on fines imposed on companies for pollution offences, claiming that current penalties are viewed as legitimate business expenses. The average fine imposed last year was £8,532 which Agency chairman Sir John Harman described as 'a gnat bite' to most businesses.

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