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In the papers today - 2nd August

Speed limits on all rural roads are to be reviewed in the light of figures that show motorists are 3½ times more likely to die driving in the countryside than in towns.

The government will order local authorities to reconsider the limits on all roads this month, particularly rural ones, where 63 per cent of road deaths happen. Ministers believe that the default 60mph on rural roads is too high in many cases, but they also want the limit raised on some 30mph and 40mph roads, where the risk to pedestrians and cyclists is low. - The Times

Holiday beaches from Rome to Genoa are deserted, despite an unrelenting heat wave, because of a plague of poisonous algae that can turn even the sea breeze toxic. Scientists blame a rise in sea temperatures for the phenomenon, which is causing damage to tourism that could run into millions of euros. - The TimesChina is working on a £21 billion scheme to divert water from Tibet to the parched Yellow River through a 300km (190-mile) network of tunnels and canals. The country that has dammed the Yangtze River and built the highest railway is undeterred by the challenges and the cost of a project that has been under discussion for more than half a century. The scheme will form the western route of the south-north water transfer project in China and will join the eastern and central routes, which are under construction. - The TimesGeorge Wimpey beat city forescasts with a 25 per cent rise in pre-tax profits after smashing through a group record for first-half house sales that it set 25 years ago. The housebuilding giant completed completed 7,822 homes in the six months to July 2, which helped lift group profits to £152.3 million. - The TimesThe Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was in financial crisis last night after being told to cut its budget by nearly £200m over the next six months. The 7% savings are expected to bite deeply into flood defence work, nature conservation and canal repair schemes as well as a host of scientific bodies and research groups. Some of the most swingeing cuts will be borne by the Environment Agency, which is expected to cut £14.9m on flood defences and £9m on environmental protection. Many people living in vulnerable areas may not get additional flood defences this year and could end up paying higher insurance rates. The cost-cutting has been ordered largely to make up for losses incurred in a disastrous revamp of the farm subsidy system. - The GuardianSeverstal, the Russian steelmaker which intervened unsuccessfully in Mittal Steel's battle to acquire Archelor this year, is to join the growing group of top Russian companies listing in London. The company, controlled by Alexei Mordashov, who is reportedly Russia's seventh-richest man, is expected to raise about $1.5bn (£800m) through a flotation, possibly in the late autumn. The move would value Russia's second-biggest steelmaker at up to £15bn. - The GuardianScientists claim to have discovered a way of speeding up the decay of nuclear waste so that it can be rendered harmless within a few decades, instead of thousands of years. The technique proposed by German physicists involves slashing the half-life of alpha-emitting material by embedding it in metal and cooling the metal to a few degrees above absolute zero. - The TelegraphThe ill-starred Wembley Stadium project was left in further disarray yesterday with the builders and the Football Association clashing on whether it will be ready for next year's FA Cup Final. Multiplex released a statement to its home stock exchange warning that it was unlikely to be ready before June 2007 at the earliest. -The TelegraphThe building of roads needs to be better assessed against how they could affect carbon dioxide emissions, according to a report by a range of transport and environmental pressure groups. The study published today by Steer Davies Greave, a transport consultancy, for Transport 2000 and other groups, says the Department for Transport often has little idea how different approaches might affect emissions of carbon dioxide, the main gas responsible for global warming. - The Financial TimesOlusegan Obasanjo, Nigeria;s president, has pledged that the country will build a nuclear power plant within 12 years. Despite being Africa's leading oil producer, most of Nigeria's 130m people remain impoverished. Blackouts are common in big cities and few rural areas have steady access to electricity. Jack McConnell, the Scottish First Minister, resisted calls to 'come off the fence' over the building of new nuclear power stations in Scotland, following the publication of a report which suggested that dangerous radioactive waste can be safely stored underground. McConnell has previously said he will not consider possible approval of new nuclear power stations until the problem of how to deal with radioactive waste is solved. - The Scotsman

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