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In the papers today - 14th July 2008

Gordon Brown is to fast-track the building of at least eight nuclear power stations to cut Britain's dependence on oil following the dramatic rise in its price...

...The Prime Minister will set "no upper limit" on the number of nuclear plants that will be built by private companies. That would mean nuclear, which provides about 20% of Britain's electricity, could meet a bigger share after the new generation of nuclear stations come on stream over the next 15 years - The Independent

Too much time spent on computers rather than working with their hands is threatening children's neurological and intellectual development, according to a report. Hands-on learning and play teaches children life skills, says the report published today by the Ruskin Mill Educational Trust, allowing them to gain an understanding of materials and experience of how the world works - The Daily Telgraph

The government is lagging far behind its own targets to cut carbon emissions, a parliamentary watchdog announced yesterday. Government departments and agencies have pledged to reduce their carbon emissions by 12.5 per cent in 2010-11, compared with levels in 1999-2000, and to be carbon neutral in 2012 - The Daily Telegraph

Policies to improve the environmental standards of Britain’s building stock are little more than “empty rhetoric”, a committee of MPs will warn this week. Instead, the government has “ignored the real issues in favour of easy headlines”, according to the report by the All Party Urban Development Group – Financial Times

A “very shocking” lack of apprenticeships in the capital has prompted ministers to set up a special taskforce to solve the problem. London has fewer apprenticeships than any other part of England, in spite of being the economy’s powerhouse, according to David Lammy, skills minister, who launches the taskforce on Monday – Financial Times

The start of a new rail freight service bringing more efficient mainland European wagons into the UK is being held up by unreasonable fee demands from the owner of the track, according to Britain’s largest rail freight operator. EWS, owned by Germany’s Deutsche Bahn railway group, believes there is demand for Continental-sized freight wagons to run through the Channel tunnel and then along High Speed 1, the fast line to London – Financial Times

Conservative politicians and Germany's big power companies have started work on an agreement to reverse the country's planned phasing-out of nuclear power. The deal, which negotiators describe as little more than a sketch so far, would see nuclear plant operators setting up a fund using some of the extra profits derived from letting their plants run past the current deadline for the last plant closure in 2022 – Financial Times

BAA has offered holders of £4.8bn in bonds about £15M ($29.8m) a year in additional interest payments and one-off incentives worth £12m in a bid to improve the debt’s rating and complete a massive refinancing of the UK airports operator. The deal follows six weeks of negotiations with six leading bondholders, who have agreed to "migrate" their securities to a new ring-fenced structure backed by the regulated assets of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, and the Gatwick Express rail service – Financial Times

On Karadere beach, in north-east Bulgaria, a smattering of families have set up camp for the summer, as they have done for years. But this year the happy-go-lucky mood has been punctured by fears that the small corner of paradise is under imminent threat by Bulgaria's first carbon-neutral resort. Having been considered ripe for development since the collapse of communism 19 years ago, the area is set to be turned into a luxury €1bn (£780m) settlement. Dubbed the Black Sea Gardens, it will include five new hill towns, artificial lakes, a marina and an extensive leisure area and will be self-sustaining, thanks to biomass power and construction from local, natural resources, say the developers - Guardian

Shareholders in British Energy will meet in Scotland this week with the future of the nuclear generator hanging on a battle of wills between the board and EDF over the French company's bid for BE. The nuclear company's directors are understood to have told the electricity generator that the price it has indicated it could be prepared to pay is not enough - Guardian

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