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In the papers today - 18th July 2008

Thousands of homes are to be built on the green belt over the next 20 years under government plans to force local councils to allow development on previously protected land across the South East...

...Waste incinerators and landfill sites could be built on green belt land, parks and even areas of outstanding natural beauty, under the proposals released yesterday - The Daily Telegraph

Nuclear power generator British Energy said that talks are continuing with other companies about building new nuclear reactors in Britain. The company said, in a statement issued at its annual meeting yesterday, that none of the proposals put forward so far has represented fair value for shareholders - The Daily Telegraph

The French government ordered ground-water tests at its 58 nuclear power stations yesterday, after a Uranium leak at one plant polluted local rivers. The safety lapse at a plant in Provence run by Areva, the state company, has raised questions over President Sarkozy's drive to build reactors around the world - in Britain but also in states with less stringent safety norms - The Daily Telegraph

The number of young people on programme-led apprenticeships has more than halved in the past two years, an Ofsted report found. Lack of financial support, and too much time spent on work placements without the prospect of a job were cited as reasons - The Independent

A hotel in Pyongyang once described as "the worst building in the history of mankind" is back under construction after a 16-year break. According to foreign residents, the Egyptian conglomerate Orascom has just begun refurbishing the top floors of the pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel, whose 330m (1,083ft) frame dominates the skyline of the capital of North Korea, which is one of the world's most reclusive and destitute countries - The Independent

Sixteen million customers of British Gas will pay about a third more for gas and electricity from next month, with average bills rising to £1,300 a year. The other five major energy companies - E.ON, EDF, Scottish and Southern Energy, ScottishPower and npower - are expected to announce similar increases - The Times

Sixty-Two local authorities will receive a further £31 million to continue to rebuild communities that were damaged during last summer's flooding, John Healey, the floods recovery minister, said during a visit to Tewkesbury - The Times

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