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In the papers today - Friday 11 July

Lessons from establishing 'new towns' such as Milton Keynes and Crawley must be researched and taken on board before the government embarks on plans to build a wave of 'eco-towns', a committee of MPs will say today...

...The warning follows a "partial, half-hearted and inadequate" government response to a separate committee report, published about six years ago, calling for an urgent evaluation of the new towns - The Financial Times

The proposal for a new generating facility at Kingsnorth, in Kent, has been approved by the local planning authority, Medway Council, paving the way for a new generation of such plants. Because of its size, it now has to be approved by the government - in theory by the business secretary, John Hutton, but in practice by Gordon Brown. Mr Hutton's approval can be taken as read - The Independent

The government is proposing a shake-up of planning laws to give local councils more power to protect high streets and safeguard small shops when considering applications to build out-of-town superstores. Hazel Blears, communities secretary, said it was "imperative" that the government helped small shops "during the challenging times they are facing" - The Financial Times

A preferred bidder for the biggest ever public procurement contract - potentially worth £17bn and considerably larger than the Olympic games - is to be announced today, kick starting a move of control for the massive Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria from the state to the private sector. Unions have expressed concerns that the change of operator may lead to a major cost-cutting drive which could bring job losses to some of the 10,000 workers, while Greenpeace warns that corners could be cut on safety to increase profits - The Guardian

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have invented a simple "solar concentrator" that gathers sunlight over a large area and channels the energy to photovoltaic cells at the edges. The system, reported in Science, is based on glass panels coated with dyes that absorb light across a range of wavelengths. The MIT researchers say their new organic solar concentrators (OSCs) could make photovoltaic cells 10 times more powerful than they are today - The Financial Times

The crisis afflicting Britain's house builders is set to add tens of thousands to the unemployment count over the next few months, senior industry figures warned yesterday, amid deepening gloom in the property sector. As alarm bells were ringing among builders, the Bank of England decided to leave interest rates unchanged at 5 per cent, with the monetary policy committee boxed in by the opposing threats of persistently high inflation and a slowing economy - The Financial Times

Two striking glass towers, part-owned by the designer Philippe Starck, are the latest victims of the falling property market, stalling the north of England's hopes of claiming Europe's highest city centre flats. The 55- and 33-storey Lumiere "shards" in the middle of Leeds have been indefinitely postponed with work halted on the Wellington Street site, where £1M of piling and foundation work has almost been completed - The Guardian

Barratt Developments joined the roll call of British house builders making widespread redundancies yesterday, announcing 1,200 new job cuts plus an £85m financial write-down and a scrapping of the dividend in the face of a massive downturn in demand for new homes. But the company also broke more positive ground by tying up £400M of new financing from its banks while renegotiating its separate £400M credit facility, which will give it some breathing space with its £1.66bn debts. Most of its main rivals are struggling to put financial packages in place - The Guardian

Iran yesterday tried to play down the loss of Total of France, which this week became the final large western energy company to pull back from investing in the country's huge south Pars gas field - The Financial Times

Up to 100,000 jobs could be lost in the house building sector, according to industry figures who have described conditions as "worse than at any time since the Second World War". The warning came as Barratt Developments announced it was cutting more than 1,000 workers - Daily Telegraph

Green activists are vowing to force their way into one of Britain's biggest power stations next month in what will be the most serious clash yet between the burgeoning climate change protest movement and the authorities. At least 2,000 campaigners from the 2008 Camp for Climate Action are expected to take part in the assault on Kingsnorth power station in Kent, a huge 2,000 megawatt plant that supplies electricity to 1.5 million homes in the South-east - The Independent

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