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In the papers - Thursday, 13 March 2008

Chancellor Alistair Darling's claim that Britain is well placed to 'weather economic storms' was shattered last night as it emerged that the Government is expecting a real fall in house prices and a major drop in City salaries in the coming year...

In a week that saw the UK hit by hurricane-speed winds, the Chancellor was forced to admit in his first Budget that Britain will be buffeted by the credit crunch and impending economic slowdown - The Daily Telegraph

Large parts of Britain were battered by the second major storm of the week yesterday, with gale-force winds overturning lorries, felling trees and forcing the cancellation of racing at the Cheltenham Festival for the first time in three decades. Motorists and rail commuters faced widespread chaos and homes were damaged as gusts of up to 85mph, hail and heavy rain struck north-west England, north Wales and Northern Ireland - The Daily Telegraph

The Environment Agency has added its weight to the growing criticism of the proposed expansion of Heathrow airport by saying the government has failed to prove that plans for a third runway will not breach EU rules on air pollution. A dramatic increase in the number of flights could also increase mortality rates accross the south-east, the agency warned - The Guardian

A promise to consign the plastic bag to the waste bin was dismissed as mere tinkering by environmental campaigners, who accused the Chancellor of doing too little on climate change. Alistair Darling said that he would introduce legislation to enable ministers to impose charges on plastic carrier bags should retailers be slow in getting rid of them voluntarily - The Times

All new offices, shops and other commercial buildings are expected to be zero carbon by 2019, the Chancellor said as he attempted to build on the green agenda. Public sector buildings including hospitals, schools and town halls are also expected to be zero carbon by 2018 - The Times

Developers of office buildings and shopping centres will have to build them to zero-carbon standards by 2019. The move marks a stepping up of the pressure on property companies, which are already compelled to produce entirely green homes by 2016 - The Financial Times

Changes expected to put about £30bn worth of private finance initiative deals back on the government's books were delayed by a year as the government announced the postponement of a switch to a new accounting standard. The Budget documentation says that instead of moving to international financial reporting standards from this April, as originally planned, the shift will not take place until April 2009 - The Financial Times

Rio Tinto raised the stakes in its iron ore price negotiations with the world's steelmakers yesterday, suggesting it might move away from traditional long-term contracts and sell more ore into the spot market, where prices are higher. The move came as Rio demanded a price for the annual contracts in excess of the 65-71 per cent rise agreed between Vale, the Brazilian miner, and Chinese steelmakers - The Financial Times

Science got only a brief mention in the Budget, because the government will publish a white paper on science and innovation today. The chancellor said this would include: a new further education innovation fund to support knowledge transfer between colleges and business; measures to make the public sector more innovative; and an annual UK innovation review - The FinancialTimes

Governments might have to intervene with taxpayer money to shore up the financial system and prevent a "downward credit spiral" from taking hold, the International Monetary Fund said yesterday. John Lipsky, the number two official at the IMF, said: "We must keep all options on the table, including the potential use of public funds to safe guard the financial system." - The Financial Times

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