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In the papers today - Wednesday 23rd July 2008

Cast farms of solar panels in the Sahara could provide clean electricity for the whole of Europe, according to EU scientists working on a plan to pool the region's renewable energy . . . .

Harnessing the power of the desert sun is at the centre of an ambitious scheme to build a £35.7bn European super-grid that would allow countries across the continent to share electricity from abundant green sources such as wind energy in the UK and Denmark, and geothermal energy from Iceland and Italy - The Guardian

Britain could cut its domestic fuel bills by £4.6bn per year if it adopted a series of energy saving measures, according to a report out today. An energy saving trial involving 64 households across eight cities organised by British Gas and monitored by thinktank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), also found that families cut their carbon emissions by a fifth - The Guardian

Oil prices have so swollen Kuwait's national coffers that the petroleum-rich state is to invest £66bn on its ambitious "Silk City" at the head of the Gulf, it emerged yesterday. The extraordinary scale of the metropolis - a 1,001m skyscraper, wildlife reserves and homes for 700,000 people - is matched by a plan to also build an international rail network linking it to Damascus, Baghdad, Iran and China - The Guardian

Householders wanting to live in Gordon Brown's pioneering eco-towns face service charges of more than £500 a year on top of their annual council tax bill. Developers in several of the 13 proposed sites are planning to levy annual charges for subsidised bus travel and management costs to be paid to a local community trust - The Times

BP's battle to stay in oil-rich Russia has been dealt a massive blow after the UK company was forced to withdraw its last engineers and technical staff from the country. After months of pressure the company bowed to the inevitable yesterday and withdrew the remaining 60 staff it had assigned to work at TNK-BP, the joint venture at the centre of a power struggle between BP and three Russian oligarchs - The Daily Telegraph

Gordon Brown's plan to build up to 10 new "ecotowns" will today suffer another setback, with the publication of lawyers advice suggesting the flagship scheme would be vulnerable to a legal challenge. The advice, commissioned by the Local Government Association, is the latest blow to the scheme to build thousands of "green" new homes - The Financial Times

The number of vocational qualifications awarded in the UK has risen by more than 8 per cent in the past year. Healthcare, retail, business. construction and engineering are the most popular vocational subjects - The Financial Times

Plans for a mainline railway station linking Heathrow airport to the rest of the national rail network, including a high-speed link to the Channel tunnel line, are to be outlined to Ruth Kelly, transport secretary, today. The scheme is being promoted by Arup, the civil engineering consultant, which estimates the project would cost £4.5bn and could be completed by 2019 - The Financial Times

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