Owen Paterson backs developers building on woodland if there is “massive offsetting” of new trees elsewhere

timeswood“Developers could be allowed to destroy ancient woodland if they agree to plant 100 trees for each one felled, the Environment Secretary has said. Owen Paterson said that “biodiversity offsetting” could apply to 400-year-old woodland. Under the scheme, the destruction of a wildlife habitat is balanced by funding for environmental improvements in other locations.” – The Times(£)

  • “Mr Paterson cited the construction of the M6 toll road around Birmingham, saying 10,000 mature trees had been lost but a million young trees planted.  ‘Now people will say that’s no good for our generation but, over the long term, that is an enormous increase in the number of trees.’ ” – BBC
  • “There is great value in housing and great value of a different kind in woodlands. The government has to hold the two in balance, respecting the aesthetic glory of the British landscape yet without flunking the challenge to build more houses.” – Leader The Times(£)
  • “Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, is under pressure over job losses in roles connected to floods at the Environment Agency for England and Wales. He insisted “frontline services” would be protected, but Paul Leinster, chief executive of the agency, has admitted some roles in flood risk management are likely to go as part of 1,500 job losses.” – The Guardian

House price rise prompts coalition split

telegraphhouse“Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, widened a split in the Coalition by describing increases in house prices in the South as a “worrying” development that threatens Britain’s economic gains…The Prime Minister this week dismissed suggestions of a house price bubble, saying there was “no evidence” that the market was unsustainable.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “House prices from Manchester to Northern Ireland rose by an average £37 a day last year as a recovery in the market gained momentum. The average price of a UK home rose 8.4 per cent to £175,826 last year, according to Nationwide Building Society. This equates to an average increase in value of £1,131 a month.” – The Times(£)
  • “The number of first-time buyers in 2013 grew at the fastest rate in over a decade and looks set to continue as the UK housing market gathers steam and moves beyond its years of stagnation. There were 265,000 first-time buyers last year – a rise of 22 per cent on 2012, according to data from Halifax.” – Financial Times

May overtakes Boris as choice for next Tory leader

“Theresa May has replaced Boris Johnson as favourite to become the next Tory leader, according to a poll of party members. The survey by influential grassroots website ConservativeHome reveals the Home Secretary has beaten the London Mayor into pole position for the first time, after a series of tough interventions on immigration. Of the 800 Tory members polled last month, 22.7 per cent said Mrs May should be the party’s next leader, just ahead of Mr Johnson on 22.6 per cent.” – Daily Mail

Police visited Tripoli to investigate Yvonne Fletcher’s murder after Cameron intervened

“Detectives from Scotland Yard paid a secret visit to Tripoli to investigate the murder of Yvonne Fletcher, days after David Cameron raised the unsolved crime with the Libyan Prime Minister last year. The Telegraph can disclose the two Metropolitan Police detectives went to Libya between September 24 and 26 last year to take forward the investigation into the shooting of WPc Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “A police colleague of Yvonne Fletcher, who was murdered outside the Libyan Embassy in 1984, has said that they were effectively “placed in front of a firing squad” after police ignored warnings of a possible attack on an anti-Gaddafi demonstration.” – The Times(£)

French socialists hit back at “little man” Cameron

“David Cameron has been dismissed as “a little man” by the ruling Socialist party in France, after he appeared to hold up the country as a model of economic failure in an article in The Times. Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, who is in charge of European and international affairs in President Hollande’s party, said Mr Cameron had shown contempt for France. “Mr David Cameron is a little gentleman who is not taking into account the situation of his own people,” Mr Cambadélis said on France-Info, the state-owned radio news network.” – The Times(£)

Cameron “frustrated” only one in three new Tory candidates are women…

independentfemale“David Cameron is facing a showdown with Conservative grass roots as he becomes frustrated by activists’ refusal to select more women to stand for Parliament in 2015, The Independent can disclose. The Prime Minister has privately expressed his irritation that local associations are failing to select more female candidates, jeopardising his hopes of boosting the number of women Conservative MPs. Fewer than one in three of the candidates so far selected in Tory-held constituencies or crucial target seats are women.” – The Independent

…as Anne McIntosh battles against deselection

“One of the Conservatives’ few female MPs in the North of England is facing a damaging second reselection battle amid an outbreak of infighting. Anne McIntosh, who represents Thirsk and Malton, could be ousted later this month, to the embarrassment of the party’s national leadership. About 540 local members  will decide in a secret ballot whether to drop her ahead of the next general election because of claims she is not fulfilling her constituency duties. Ballot papers go out next week.” – The Independent

Historians got to war over Gove…

GOVE finger pointing“Leading historians yesterday backed calls for schools to stop showing Blackadder to children learning about the First World War. They sided with Michael Gove after he said the comedy Blackadder Goes Forth and shows such as the Monocled Mutineer and Oh! What a Lovely War wrongly depicted Britain’s military efforts as a ‘misbegotten shambles’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Writing in the Daily Mail yesterday Mr Gove accused Professor Sir Richard Evans of failing to acknowledge the debt owed to the soldiers that were killed in the Great War claiming he had previously dismissed attempts to honour their sacrifice as “narrow tub-thumping jingoism”. Sir Richard, Regius Professor of History and President of Wolfson College Cambridge, suggested the criticism stemmed from his vocal opposition to the Education Secretary’s ill-fated attempts to reform the way history is taught in schools.” – The Independent

…as Truss calls for an end to “anti maths culture”

“Parents who say ‘I can’t do maths’ are harming their children and Britain’s long-term economic prospects, the schools minister warned yesterday. Elizabeth Truss said that a damaging ‘anti-maths culture’ must be reversed to stop the country and our students  slipping further and further behind international rivals.” – Daily Mail

Redwood tried to cut Scottish budget

Redwood John Oct 11“Details have emerged of attempts by ministers to make secret cuts to the Scottish budget during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. Cabinet papers released under the 30-year rule show senior figures believed Scotland was over-funded by £900m. John Redwood, then a Downing Street adviser, wanted cuts of £500m to Scotland’s budget, the papers reveal.” – BBC

BNP leader declared bankrupt

“British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin MEP has been declared bankrupt. A bankruptcy order was made at Welshpool County Court on Thursday. Mr Griffin tweeted: “Being bankrupt does NOT prevent me being or standing as an MEP. It does free me from financial worries.” – BBC

Straw blames Bush for his sacking

“Jack Straw has hinted that he believes that members of President Bush’s team may have leant on Tony Blair to sack him as Foreign Secretary. The former Labour minister, who has announced that he is standing down as an MP next year, said that he had been told how unpopular he was with key allies of President Bush.” – The Times(£)

Labour think tank calls for tax rises of £330 per family

“A THINK-tank chaired by former Labour minister Lord Adonis has called for post-election tax increases of up to £330 per family, it was claimed last night. The Institute of Public Policy Research said tax hikes “should form a greater part of measures to reduce the deficit”. Its report — Rebalancing the Books — said the rises should make up 20 per cent of deficit-slashing measures after 2015.” – The Sun(£)

EU calls a halt to wind subsidies

“Ministers will have to cut subsidies for wind farms under pressure from Brussels. The European Commission has also told the Government to cut financial support for solar energy by the end of the decade. It comes after Michael Fallon, the Energy Minister, announced last month that onshore wind farms would have to compete with each other for subsidies after 2015.” – The Times(£)

News in brief

  • Sir Ming Campbell calls for older MPs – The Sun(£)
  • Mental health staff to be based in police stations – BBC
  • NHS criticised for £10 million waste – The Times(£)
  • 133 still not compensated for London riots – BBC
  • GPs paid £1,500 for a shift on A&E – Daily Mail
  • MPs call for better travel information – BBC

And finally…Cameron misses Sound of Music

“David Cameron’s plans to watch The Sound Of Music with his family at Christmas were hit after storms caused a power cut at his home, The Sun can reveal. The PM, who had sat down to enjoy Julie Andrews’ classic in Oxfordshire, told locals in Southampton: “We had wallpaper coming down and drips going into a bucket.” – The Sun(£)