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In the papers today - 16th June 2008

Soaring oil prices have led to such a boom for solar power that the industry could operate without subsidies in just a few years, according to industry leaders...

...At the solar industry trade fair in Munich over the weekend, there was growing confidence that the holy grail known as "grid parity" - whereby electricity from the sun can be produced as cheaply as it can be bought from the grid - is just a few years away - The Guardian

The £11bn auction of British energy could be abandoned in favour of a series of joint ventures with Europe's leading power companies, according to plans being considered by the UK nuclear operator - Daily Telegraph

Leading house builders have blasted the Government for failing to help out the ailing sector amid warnings that just 100,000 new homes will be built this year against the Prime Minister's target of 240,000 - Daily Telegraph

Rescuers digging their way through a ravine buried in mud pulled three bodies from a hotel yesterday, bringing the death toll from Saturday's earthquake in northern Japan to at least nine. Soldiers found the bodies of the hotel's 80-year-old owner and two other people who were buried by a landslide when the 7.2-magnitude tremor struck - The Independent

A girl was killed by a train as she ran to warn a friend looking for a mobile phone on the track, it emerged yesterday - Daily Telegraph

The economy will grow next year at the weakest pace since the early 1990s as higher oil prices squeeze corporate profits and household budgets, the CBI employers' organisation forecasts today. The CBI expects growth of 1.7 per cent in gross domestic product this year, little changed from its last forecast in March - The Financial Times

Silvio Berlosconi, the Italian Prime Minister, is to place nuclear power at the heart of a new energy plan this week as his country faces rising fuel costs - Daily Telegraph

David Cameron will on Monday reject calls from the right of his party to drop the Tories' plans for higher environmental taxes in the face of the economic downturn, insisting instead that Britain must "wean itself off fossil fuels and go green". Business will face tougher environmental standards under a Conservative government, the party leader is expected to say in a speech in London. He will set out proposals to require the next generation of coal-fired power stations, including Eon’s proposed £1.5bn new plant at Kingsnorth, to meet significantly lower emission levels - The Financial Times

Half a million properties will be uninsurable while many owners of new homes will find it increasingly difficult to obtain cover unless there is better protection against flooding, insurers will warn this week. The Association of British Insurers will caution that widespread and affordable insurance will become history unless the government develops a long-term strategy for managing flood risk - The Financial Times

More than 1,600 pairs of wading birds and ducks have had their nests destroyed by flooding in a wildlife catastrophe in the Cambridgeshire fens. Nearly 600 pairs of increasingly scarce ground-nesting waders - lapwing snipe and redshank - have lost eggs or chicks in the flooding on the Ouse Washes, a narrow, 20-mile strip of grassland near Ely which is the best breeding site for waders in lowland England - The Independent

Arguably the most important invention for the written word since the printing press, the biro pen, was 70 years old yesterday. Invented by Hungarian Laszlo Biro, the simple ballpoint owes its existence in part to the RAF, who placed bulk orders for the implement during the Second World War - Daily Telegraph

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