Country Life Today: The farmer who made a 23ft gap in Offa’s Dyke — and tried to blame his sheep

This morning's news round-up finds a butterfly charity calling for volunteers to count migration of painted ladies to the UK; discovers if making plastic from weeds could reduce a car's carbon footprint before it's even driven; and hears of the farmer who damaged Offa's Dyke and pinned the blame on his sheep.

Farmer damages ancient monument; blames it on sheep

Richard Pugh was not having the best day when he created a 23ft (7m)  wide gap in Offa’s Dyke, the ancient boundary between England and Wales.

In an explanation dubbed ‘unbelievably ridiculous’ by Judge Rhys Rowlands of the Mold Crown Court, Mr Pugh claimed that the damage to Offa’s Dyke (which is thought to date from the 8th century) was caused by his sheep.

Offa’s Dyke near Montgomery, Powys, Wales, UK

He later admitted that the erosion was caused by machinery and quad bikes at his farm in Powys, and was ordered to pay over £2,000 in damages.

‘This is a monument of national, indeed it doesn’t overstate it to say international, importance.’ said Judge Rowlands. ‘It’s quite plain to me you would have known of that.’

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It’s feared that archeological information could have been damaged by the erosion, caused when Mr Pugh created a gap in a fence which ran along the boundary and used it as a gateway to connect one field to another.

Luckily, the sheep escaped prosecution.

Full story (Independent)

Predicted mass influx of painted butterflies leads to a call for volunteers to count them

An unusually large number of painted lady butterflies have been spotted flying from Europe to the UK.

The beautiful species fly to the UK for the summer months annually, but every ten years or so sees a mass migration of butterflies. About 11 million arrived the last time the phenomenon happened in 2008.

Painted Lady butterfly in front garden in St. Leonards East Sussex.

The charity Butterfly Conservation have sent out the call for volunteers to count the migrating butterflies, to see if this will be a ‘painted lady summer.’

TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham called the 7,500-mile migration at speeds of up to 30 mph ‘one of the wonders of the natural world’ and urges the nation to join the Big Butterfly Count, which begins today.

Full story (BBC News)

Happy Birthday Brian May!

‘I just want to be able to play as fast as my brain goes, and my brain doesn’t go all that fast.’

Lead guitarist of Queen, singer, songwriter, astrophysicist (yes, really) and all-round legend Brian May was born on this day in 1945.

Could plastic made from weeds reduce motoring’s carbon footprint?

Everyone loves killing two birds with one stone (metaphorically, of course) and the discoveries made by a new research group in Poland may have done just that.

Granted £13.5 million by the EU, the group Selena has attempted to use plants not in the human food chain to produce eco-friendly plastics. They seek to reduce the carbon footprint required in the creation of a car, which researchers have shown can actually equal the amount which a car emits over its driving lifetime.

Wojciech Komala, the research and development director of project Biomotive, says that soon car dashboards and other interior parts could be made with this bioplastic. Although currently an expensive option, the Biomotive team are trying to make the process commercially viable.

Mr Komala’s team hopes to set up a small production factory next year.

Full story (BBC News)

Stat of the day


The percentage of Brits who now drink plant-based milk, according to The BBC. Concerns about ethics and the environment are driving people to seek plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk, with 33% of 16-24 year olds drinking almond, soy or coconut milk instead.

Cow’s milk still makes up 96% of the milk market.

Full story (BBC)

And finally… the first hole-in-one at the Open since 2016

Forget watching videos of Rory McIlroy taking an 8 — this is the true highlight of the first day at golf’s greatest championship:

What a shot!

Royal Portrush: How one of golf’s greatest masterpieces has been made even greater

Royal Portrush, in County Antrim, is one of the finest golf courses not just in Northern Ireland but the world.