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David Gregory-Kumar

David Gregory-Kumar Science & Environment correspondent, BBC News

From laboratories to landfills, the science and environment stories that affect you

Supercharging the humble 999 call with streaming video

Smethwick fire
The fire in Smethwick involved 100,000 tonnes of plastic recycling material, produced a 6,000ft smoke plume and is thought to have caused £6m damage to the Jayplas depot

I recently went along to the West Midlands Fire Service HQ in Birmingham to hear them discuss some new ideas they've been looking at to "supercharge" the traditional 999 emergency call.

A year ago, the service was still dealing with one of the largest fires we've ever seen in the West Midlands.

A blaze at a plastics recycling plant in Smethwick thought to have been caused by a stray Chinese lantern.

There's been much praise for the way all the emergency services handled the Smethwick fire. But it's not a surprise to learn that the initial response was much smaller than would eventually be needed.

Ninety second window

I was played the first 999 call received that day and found it hard to work out exactly where the caller was calling from let alone the scale of the fire itself. The dispatcher in the control room had just 90 seconds to answer, assess and send out the right resources. In this case, once fire fighters arrived at the scene and saw the size of the blaze they quickly radioed in for more equipment and people.

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Badger cull 'won't control bovine TB'

The paper, written by the universities of Warwick and Cambridge, suggests a badger cull has only a small impact on the spread of bovine TB

Bovine TB is a slow moving, unpleasant disease that is having a huge impact on the health of our cattle and on our wildlife.

But we know surprisingly little about how it spreads and what is the most effective way to control it.

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Quinoa: From Bolivia to the fields of Shropshire

Stephen Jones and David Gregory-Kumar
Stephen Jones expects to produce about 100 tonnes of quinoa in Ellesmere this year

So the UK's first commercial crop of quinoa is currently ripening in fields just south of Ellesmere in Shropshire.

Quinoa is a trendy grain that is booming in popularity.

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University of Warwick helps safeguard our vegetables

Rows of plants

Who knows what difficulties the future farmers of the UK might face?

A lack of water, new diseases or insect pests could all cause problems for the crops they grow. But researchers at the University of Warwick are charged with protecting our lettuces, carrots and other vegetables with their seed bank.

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Hunting the pine marten, the Midlands' rarest mammal

Pine Marten
Photo of a Scottish Pine Marten

Pine Martens are some of our rarest Midlands mammals.

Possibly rare to the point of no longer being here.

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Adders and barn owls struggle after bad winter

An adder

Last year was a pretty poor one for Midlands' wildlife. Filming this year's Springwatch we came across plenty of stories of low numbers and even talk of population crashes for some species.

We've focused in particular on the problems faced by adders and barn owls. Both are species that really suffered because of the snow and delayed spring in 2013.

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Rediscovering the Tame for wildlife and for people

This 200 year old footbridge will be restored as part of the Tame Valley scheme
This 200 year old footbridge will be restored as part of the Tame Valley scheme

Over the past century the rivers of the Midlands have really been bashed about. They've been diverted, blocked and sometimes covered over completely.

In the more urban parts of the Midlands there's been a tradition of "canalisation". Rivers are straightened and their banks turned from gentle slopes into sharp, straight-sided drops.

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From Cern to Midlands engineers

Pen nib and part from Large Hadron Collider

This picture feels more powerful than anything I've ever reported on before.

What you can see here is a 150-year-old pen nib and part of the Cern Large Hadron Collider.

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Why not visit CERN for free?

The ATLAS experiment at CERN which found the Higgs boson
The ATLAS experiment at CERN which found the Higgs boson

If our reports for Midlands Today have whetted your appetite, and you'd like to visit CERN, then you can.

From school parties, to families on holiday, to celebrities (Tom Hanks, John Barrowman and have all popped in) all are welcome. And even better it's free!

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Two years after Higgs boson find, what now for CERN?

The ATLAS experiment at CERN which found the Higgs boson
The ATLAS experiment at CERN which found the Higgs boson

This will be my second visit to CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, and my first since the discovery of the Higgs boson. So why are we going back?

Well, approaching two years since the discovery of the Higgs we want to find out what next for the Large Hadron Collider? We spent £8bn building a machine to find the Higgs boson and there it was, exactly as predicted. So what new physics will the scientists look for next? Or is there still more work to be done around the Higgs itself?

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About David

David grew up in the rolling hills of Hertfordshire roaming the fields and helping out on local farms.

He studied physics at the University of Liverpool and stayed on after graduating to try his hand at research. This would lead to his PhD looking at the behaviour of atomic layers of potassium on silicon.

While writing up his research he tried freelance reporting and discovered he really enjoyed it. So after picking up his PhD he began working for the BBC.

His work for the corporation has taken him all over the world and through tornados, earthquakes, floods and riots. His favourite story remains the discovery of a nuclear fuel rod in a Tamworth scrap yard.

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