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In the papers today - Tuesday 2 September

Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin tycoon, is planning to wade into the break-up of BAA by tabling a bid for Gatwick Airport that could cost more than £2bn...

...The Daily Telegraph has learned, "We are open to being courted by anyone who is interested in bidding," said Sir Richard, the president of Virgin Atlantic. He has already held talks with several potential bidding partners, he said, thought to include funds backed by the Dubai royal family - Daily Telegraph

Plans to transform Bristol's docks into the centre of a vast logistics hub serving the Midlands and south-west are threatened by a “highly damaging” proposal to build a hydro-electric barrage across the Severn estuary, the government has been warned. The Port of Bristol has earmarked investment of £500M for a cargo terminal serving a new generation of giant container ships, and has submitted the proposals to Whitehall - Financial Times

Heathrow's next flagship terminal hailed as the gateway to the 2012 London Olympics, will not be ready for the event. BAA, Heathrow's operators, have admitted that, at best, only part of Heathrow East will be open - Daily Telegraph

A new generation of large hydroelectric dams and smaller plants across the Highlands could produce enough clean energy for more than half a million homes, a ministerial taskforce has estimated. A report published today by Scottish ministers suggests that up to 128 new dams and scores of smaller schemes powered by natural flow of a river could be built across the western and southern Highlands, generating enough electricity for a quarter of Scotland’s homes - Guardian

A row between aid agencies and Indian authorities has broken out over allegations that flood-stricken areas have received inadequate food supplies and medical equipment to cope with the annual monsoon deluge. More than 250,000 refugees were in government and relief agency camps in Bihar, northern India, last night, while aid workers reported growing tensions over the lack of emergency supplies - Guardian

Environmental activists will try to put the future of coal-fired electricity on trial this week, in a court case that will highlight the growing debate over the UK's energy mix. Six Greenpeace volunteers were in the dock yesterday accused of causing £30,000 damage to Eon's power station at Kingsnorth in Kent by painting a slogan on a chimney. They were protesting at Eon's plans to build a new coal-fired power station next to the existing plant - Financial Times

Britain needs to do more to boost manufacturing, even to the extent of formulating some kind of industrial policy, the Director-General of the CBI has warned. Richard Lambert told The Times that there was an urgent need to bolster manufacturing ahead of major infrastructure work and as the economic slowdown puts more pressure on industry - The Times

A factory in South Wales will be producing thousands of urban windmills within a few years after an investment by RWE, the German utility , in a British venture. RWE Innogy, the renewable energy unit of the German company, is taking a £6M stake in Quiet Revolution, a two-year-old enterprise that has developed a novel wind turbine design capable of generating power in turbulent urban landscapes - The Times

Catastrophe insurers are facing a $9bn claims bill for damage to American homes and businesses after Hurricane Gustav tore into the US Gulf Coast last night and breached storm barriers protecting New Orleans. The bill, on top of estimated claims of at least $2bn (£1.1bn) in losses against offshore oil platforms and supply disruptions, came as a second hurricane, Hanna, formed in the Carribean - The Times

The pound dropped to a record low against the euro yesterday, as money markets digested warnings from Alistair Darling that the economic times the UK faces "are arguably the worst they've been in 60 years". The pound's fall, which was exacerbated by more weak economic data, came as traders said that sterling was set increasingly to bear the brunt of the UK's economic slowdown. It dropped to a low of £0.8139 to the euro, its weakest level since the single currency's inception in 1999 - Financial Times

The stock of small businesses in England and Wales could drop by as much as 150,000 by early 2010, according to Barclays, blowing the froth off the UK's enterprise culture. The ardour of would-be entrepreneurs has already been damped by tighter credit and tougher trading conditions, the bank reports. "We will probably see the [business] stock fall by up to 150,000 in the course of the downswing," said Richard Roberts, head of small and medium-sized enterprise analysis at Barclays. "Growth has already stopped - closures have been higher than start-ups for some time." - Financial Times

With almost four years still to go until the London Olympics, police have been put on alert for widespread fraud after receiving reports of scams ranging from websites offering fake tickets to “boiler rooms” selling shares in companies with fake games-linked contracts. Steve Wilmott, City of London police’s head of economic crime, said the internet air ticket scam suffered by the parents of Rebecca Adlington, the British swimmer who won two gold medals, was a telling sign of frauds that could flourish around London 2012 - Financial Times

Battered but intact, New Orleans weathered Hurricane Gustav yesterday as heavy rain and high winds hit the coast of Louisiana. The huge storm struck the coast south-west of the city, forcing 14ft waves against protective levees - Daily Telegraph

China's central bank has acquired a secret stake in Drax, the owner of the UK's biggest coal-fired power station. The People's Bank of China is understood to have been building its stake in Drax for about a year and now owns just over 0.7% of the company - Daily Telegraph

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