A weekly round-up of rural news
Inverness gardeners are suffering from urban deer blight. The population of sika deer has exploded, causing them to move from their normal woodland habitat to town gardens, where they strip bark from trees and tear up plants. It is illegal for the householders to shoot them - under the 1959 Deer (Scotland) Act only farmers, foresters and market gardeners may do so - but a local forestry company has another suggestion: a commercial repellent called "lion's dung". Spread it around the garden and "it frightens the blighters off", said Alasdair MacLeod, of Forest Enterprise.

The National Rivers Authority has abandoned plans to clean a river in north Derbyshire of high concentrations of dioxins. It is also dropping proposals to prosecute Coalite, from whose plant the harmful chemicals allegedly came. Instead, the Doe Lea river will be allowed to clean itself over time. The NRA felt that attempting to decontaminate the water would cause more problems for the local environment than if the chemicals were left. Dioxins - said to cause cancer - were first discovered in the area in 1991, appearing in contaminated milk.

A Dublin-based company has been given the go-ahead to drill for gas in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in North Yorkshire. The first borehole will be sunk about a mile from Castle Howard. A 90ft-high rig will become a fixture there if gas is found. Conservationists claim the decision will compromise the protected area, as well as the stately home's estate. Arthur Collinge, of the Yorkshire and Humberside Tourist Board, said: "I can't believe that tourists come to North Yorkshire to see oil and gas rigs dotted around the landscape."

The Government was asked this week to ban off-road vehicles which have damaged one of Britain's main prehistoric tracks, the 5,000-year-old Ridge Way, which runs along the Berkshire Downs.