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In the papers - Thursday, 15 May 2008

Households will face pay-as-you throw rubbish taxes despite Gordon Brown indicating he would abandon the controversial levies in the wake of the disastrous local election results...

...The Environmental Department yesterday insisted that the charges could have an "important impact" – The Daily Telegraph

Two thousand soldiers have been sent to plug cracks in a dam upriver from the earthquake-stricken town of Dujiangyan. The Zipingpu dam is among the most modern in China but was built despite warnings from China's Earthquake Bureau that it may close to a significant fault line. The Ministry of Water Resources called for the urgent protection of the Zipingpu reservoir yesterday, saying that Dujiangyan, which has about 600,000 residents, would be swamped if the dam failed – The Times

Caroline Flint, the Housing Minister, faced accusations of cronyism yesterday after it emerged that a Labour politician was heavily involved in a proposed eco-town in her constituency. Malcolm Clark, a Labour councillor, is a director of one on the companies behind plans to build an eco-town for 42,000 people in Rossington in Miss Flint's Don Valley constituency near Doncaster – The Daily Telegraph

Construction plant manufacturer Deere & Company said yesterday that the cost of higher raw material costs and falling sales of construction equipment would hurt its earnings this year, sending its shares down 10 per cent to $82.09 (£42.14). "Favourable conditions across the global farm sector are helping to drive the company's record financial results, even at a time of a slowing US economy," Deere said - The Financial Times

Rio Tinto is seeking partnerships with Chinese steel and construction companies to help develop a $6bn (£3.08bn) West African iron ore mine, in what would be the mining group’s largest deal with China, its biggest customer. The Simandou project in Guinea could eventually supply steelmakers in Europe and Asia with up to 170m tonnes of iron ore a year. The first phase of the mine’s development targets 70m tonnes a year by 2018 - The FinancialTimes

Afghanistan is set to ask the international community at a conference in Paris next month for $50.1bn (£25.73bn) to finance its reconstruction over the next five years. The hefty price tag of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy – more than double the per year funding demands of a similar 2004 masterplan – has raised eyebrows among diplomats and development experts who have questioned whether the Afghan government has the ability to oversee such a large spending spree - The Financial Times

Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) is to build the world's largest offshore windfarm and has awarded $3bn (£1.54bn) in contracts to US engineer Fluor Corp and Germany's Siemens AG. Despite industry doubts about the viability of offshore wind, SSE said yesterday that it would build the farm off Britain's east coast - The Guardian

The housebuilder Barratt Developments and Britain's largest commercial property landlord, Land Securities, added to the gloom in the sector yesterday with bleak forecasts for the rest of the year. Land Securities, which is demolishing part of Fenchurch Street station in London to build an office block dubbed the Walkie Talkie, said the slump in commercial property values was past the worst but the firm would face pressure to cut rents from tenants hit by the credit crunch - The Guardian

Ferrovial, the majority shareholder in BAA, unveiled ambitious earnings targets for the debt-laden owner of Heathrow airport. The Spanish conglomerate said it expected earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation to rise by 17.8% a year over the next four years, doubling from just over £1bn this year to £2bn by 2012 - The Guardian

As the threat of a second cyclone hung over Burma the regime last night rejected the latest diplomatic efforts to persuade it to accept international aid and tightened roadblocks to prevent relief workers reaching the worst hit area of the Irrawaddy delta. The grim outlook 12 days after the disaster, which killed as many as 128,000 according to the Red Cross, was compounded by alarm that a second cyclone might be forming in the Bay of Bengal, possibly bringing further misery - The Guardian

Brazil has been accused of turning its back on its duty to protect the Amazon after the resignation of its award-winning Environment minister fuelled fresh fears over the fate of the forest. The departure of Marina Silva, who admitted she was losing the battle to get green voices heard amidst the rush for economic development, has been greeted with dismay by conservationists - Independent

Ferrovial, owner of the embattled airport group BAA, has courted fresh controversy by publishing internal predictions that its profits at Heathrow will more than double within five years - Independent

Land Securities may delay building the Ealkie-Telkie office block in the City of London as rents in the square mile fall and vacacies rise - Independent

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