22/09/2014 Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire


22/09/2014

Is the Drax power station's conversion from coal to biomass energy doing harm to the environment? Can the north/south divide be bridged to bring more prosperity to the north?


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Transcript


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Good evening and welcome to Inside Out.

:00:00.:00:00.

Good evening and welcome to Inside Out.

:00:00.:00:22.

Tonight, is Drax Power Station's conversion

:00:23.:00:25.

from coal to green biomass `ny worse for the environment?

:00:26.:00:34.

Should Drax stop its conversion programme?

:00:35.:00:36.

After the Scottish vote, should the North of England be

:00:37.:00:41.

asking for more autonomy to help us narroa the North South divide.

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Until recently, Drax Power Station near Selby was

:00:51.:00:52.

known as a serial polluter, pumping CO2 into the atmosphere

:00:53.:00:57.

They have been using governlent cash to move from burning coal

:00:58.:01:00.

Far from being a green policy, some people think that is

:01:01.:01:07.

For a million years man has burnt wood for heat and light,

:01:08.:01:16.

But now it's being used on an industrial scale to satisfy our

:01:17.:01:24.

need for low pollution, gredn energy and that's led to questions about

:01:25.:01:27.

Burning these forests is worse than coal in terms of the amount

:01:28.:01:35.

of carbon that is going to be put into the atmosphere.

:01:36.:01:40.

There are good ways of burning biomass and bad ways

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If you procure it from a sizeable source,

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The future of Drax Power St`tion relies on burning wood, what's

:01:47.:02:00.

Drax is Western Europe's largest power plant and it's working hard to

:02:01.:02:06.

lose the label of Britain's biggest pollutdr.

:02:07.:02:09.

That means burning less coal to generate electricity.

:02:10.:02:13.

And this is how it will happen, burning tonnes and tonnes

:02:14.:02:16.

To start with three of the six generating units in Drax

:02:17.:02:24.

I think it is important for the future of the UK, actually.

:02:25.:02:35.

We are one of the most efficient power stations and low on elissions

:02:36.:02:40.

If it remains a coal station, it will shut down next

:02:41.:02:45.

What biomass does is it turns us into a renewable power stathon,

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gives us a long`term future, preserves that 7% of generation for

:02:53.:02:55.

the UK, preserves jobs in Yorkshire and it is a good renewable.

:02:56.:03:03.

So far so good but an operation this large needs a lot of wood,

:03:04.:03:07.

according to some estimates as much as nine million tonnes everx year.

:03:08.:03:13.

That's nearly double the entire UK forestry output.

:03:14.:03:17.

So Drax has needed to look dlsewhere and that's meant going to the

:03:18.:03:21.

United States where they sax they have more than enough wood to meet

:03:22.:03:24.

Every half an hour 24 hours a day seven days a week,

:03:25.:03:35.

these biomass trains arrive from the Humber ports and from Tdesport.

:03:36.:03:40.

Most of the material does come from the US and to many people,

:03:41.:03:48.

cutting down trees in the States, shipping them here to Drax via the

:03:49.:03:51.

Humber ports is a long journey to justify us being carbon fridndly.

:03:52.:03:56.

We thought from the beginning there was no sense in us importing

:03:57.:04:05.

this biomass if we can't be confident it is a low carbon fuel.

:04:06.:04:09.

The only way you can know that is you have to measure the carbon cost

:04:10.:04:13.

from the forest or the field all the way through the supply chain,

:04:14.:04:16.

through any processing, through the shipping, right the way through the

:04:17.:04:18.

ports, trains to tracks, look at that compared to other ftels

:04:19.:04:24.

We know we deliver 80% savings relative to coal.

:04:25.:04:32.

Drax's conversion from coal to wood is all supported

:04:33.:04:35.

by public subsidy, but on the condition that it produces

:04:36.:04:41.

Drax needs to prove its bushness isn't harming the environment.

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With so much wood to source, Drax has to rely on contractors

:04:49.:04:54.

I've been invited to see part of the Drax wood pellet operation

:04:55.:05:01.

in the United States so I'm off to Savannah,

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Georgia to find out where the wood that's burnt here is coming from.

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This is a tree nursery ` part of one of the biggest operations

:05:12.:05:15.

Matthew Rivers from Drax is showing me how it works.

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This site is 85 acres and is producing ?60 million a year.

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The company running this nursery is called Plum Creek owns nearly 7

:05:30.:05:33.

million acres of wood across 19 states.

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It provides employment in some of the poorest areas of the USA

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and is proud of its commitment to the environment.

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Plum Creek is a main supplier to Drax.

:05:46.:05:50.

About 85% of our fuel is this raw matdrial.

:05:51.:05:54.

We are always looking to assess in our diligence upfront beford we sign

:05:55.:05:58.

up with the supplier and thdn on monetary verification afterwards.

:05:59.:06:04.

The harvest is within annual reliable cut.

:06:05.:06:12.

We're not moving into an arda where we will deplete the carbon stock.

:06:13.:06:16.

The forest is managed sustahnably and we can satisfy ourselves

:06:17.:06:20.

and external auditors that our fuel is generally sustainably sotrced.

:06:21.:06:29.

These trees play an important role in absorbing greenhouse gasds.

:06:30.:06:34.

But Drax insists what it's cutting down here is waste wood

:06:35.:06:38.

When Plum Creek's trees are bigger, they are harvested for sawmhlls to

:06:39.:06:44.

But the smaller or misshapen trees, called thinning, go for pellets

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We are sitting on our high`value saw logs.

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Nice clear wood, preferable in a sawmill.

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They are picked out and grown for their quality.

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There is waste in the forest as well, stuff you can't usd.

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It is waste material or bi`products of growing a sawn log.

:07:11.:07:22.

Of course the lumber industry has existed for

:07:23.:07:25.

centuries in the US ` Drax says all it's doing is buying up a cheap bi`

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product of this industry, that in the past has gone to paper lills.

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But for some there's a darkdr side to the biomass industry,

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which is worrying campaigners on both sides of the Atlanthc.

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We are at the edge of the rhver on the edge of the floodplahn.

:07:48.:07:51.

Drax stands accused of destroying hardwood natural forests in the USA

:07:52.:07:59.

Not just using waste wood but cutting down trees

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which environmentalists say should be protected.

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The biomass industry want you to see an artificial plantation th`t is

:08:10.:08:14.

They don't want you to see a natural forest like these

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hardwoods in part because anyone can look around here and say th`t there

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is a lot that wood be lost hf these are cut and burned for fuel.

:08:25.:08:31.

The southern environmental law centre isn't a lone voice

:08:32.:08:34.

Earlier this year 60 leading US scientists wrote to the British

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government urging it to reconsider its biomass policy.

:08:41.:08:50.

The easiest way to see what they're worried about is from the ahr.

:08:51.:08:54.

Some of these forests are ddscribed as endangered

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The forests below me under pressure an expanding from biomass

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Derb Carter shows me a largd area of cleared forest which he believes

:09:10.:09:30.

He claims this was recently cut down by one of Drax's main supplhers

:09:31.:09:37.

And just a few miles away from the clearing is

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a large pellet mill ` one of three operating in the rdgion.

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Derb Carter believes the trdes which are visible on the wood pile

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Historically, we have lost ` lot of this forest over many decades.

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We were just getting to a point where the loss was stabilishng.

:09:57.:10:02.

Now this industry is putting pressure on the forests

:10:03.:10:05.

and we are starting to see lore loss than we have been actually

:10:06.:10:08.

Having seen the forests of North Carolina from the air,

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Tim McCormick has been a river guide in the swamps for most of hhs life.

:10:24.:10:35.

There is not a lot of peopld round here that of these forests.

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They never consider doing anything but coming.

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It is the way people make money around here.

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The timber industry is to this place what

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It is the bread and butter `nd what makes a lot of money for people

:10:51.:10:57.

Environmentalists like Adam Macon believe the biomass industrx

:10:58.:11:01.

and its growing demand for pellets is a big factor

:11:02.:11:04.

They are sourcing what they are using, that power,

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They're sourcing from right here in the south, from our southern forest,

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from the forest that we relx on to protect us from the worst effects of

:11:21.:11:26.

climate change, that we relx on to improve water quality and wd rely on

:11:27.:11:29.

to providers habitat for all of the amazing diversity th`t exists

:11:30.:11:33.

It doesn't seem that Drax is taking that into account,

:11:34.:11:41.

the impacts of what they ard having here in the southern United States.

:11:42.:11:48.

As well as being a bio diversity hotspot, North Carolina is `lso the

:11:49.:11:51.

America is the largest exporter of wood pellets in the world.

:11:52.:12:01.

Enviva is another supplier tsed by Drax to source wood pelldts.

:12:02.:12:05.

This is its factory in Ahoskie North Carolina, along with

:12:06.:12:10.

Drax it was recently nominated by the Ecologist magazine as one

:12:11.:12:13.

Do we know for sure that hardwood like this is

:12:14.:12:19.

I understand that it is a major supplier of Drax.

:12:20.:12:27.

We know many of these hardwood trees will end up being burned

:12:28.:12:37.

Enviva insists it adheres to all state and national government

:12:38.:12:41.

In fact they were happy to show me around a wood pellet facility `

:12:42.:12:47.

not in North Carolina but just 30 miles or so across state

:12:48.:12:51.

It's a 24/7 operation turning trees into pellets

:12:52.:12:57.

It is the scale of this industry that is so striking.

:12:58.:13:04.

This one factory on its own produces half 1 lillion

:13:05.:13:08.

Enviva says all the wood here is low qualitx waste `

:13:09.:13:18.

The company says it's confident that the logging firms which supply it

:13:19.:13:25.

are acting responsibly and not depleting natural h`bitat.

:13:26.:13:36.

We have quite strict policids in place that we track to the land We

:13:37.:13:43.

know where it comes from, what happens, why every piece of fibre

:13:44.:13:47.

ended up on our lot and it didn t have a use in a sawmill. It is

:13:48.:13:53.

audited by third parties and we feel confident that what we are doing is

:13:54.:14:00.

sustainable for the convershon of the generation in counties like the

:14:01.:14:09.

UK. They are busy school of thought that says that you should bd going

:14:10.:14:13.

to your suppliers and saying we are strict about the criteria. The

:14:14.:14:18.

criticism is that you are not strict enough. We actually think wd are

:14:19.:14:26.

very strict. We have a 0 tolerance policy. If we find people do not

:14:27.:14:31.

comply with the best managelent practices, comply with endangered

:14:32.:14:39.

species act and the clean w`ter act, we will cut off the supplier. We

:14:40.:14:44.

have not had to do it very luch but we would do it definitely.

:14:45.:14:52.

These pellets will shortly begin their journey to Europe.

:14:53.:14:56.

evidence that we?ve collectdd and a list of questions to put to the

:14:57.:15:15.

In recent months, the UK government has also had questions to ask.

:15:16.:15:19.

It is spending hundreds of lillions of pounds subsidising Drax?s

:15:20.:15:22.

conversion from coal to biolass and has raised its own concdrns

:15:23.:15:24.

The government recently published its so`called ?Carbon Calculator?

:15:25.:15:28.

That said that in some instances burning trees for

:15:29.:15:30.

power could actually be worse for the environment than burning coal.

:15:31.:15:33.

Here at the RSPB it?s something they?re also concerned about.

:15:34.:15:46.

The report the government ptblished really confirmed something we have

:15:47.:15:52.

known for a long time, that there is a serious risk when we burn wood in

:15:53.:16:00.

power stations like Drax. It also said some sources are good for the

:16:01.:16:05.

climate, but the big problel is the government are not responding to the

:16:06.:16:08.

report by changing standards and making sure only good biomass is

:16:09.:16:16.

used. Should Drax stop its conversion programme? For now, yes.

:16:17.:16:24.

But back at Drax, they are `damant they have got it right. Biolass is

:16:25.:16:35.

working to reduce greenhousd gases. Anything you can do, you can do it

:16:36.:16:40.

in a good or bad way. We worked this out when we set up the strategy

:16:41.:16:44.

that the first thing we did was we went around the world and looked at

:16:45.:16:49.

what were the sustainabilitx standards for forestry and

:16:50.:16:52.

agriculture and we set what we considered to be the best standard,

:16:53.:16:59.

which set good requirements. The company has rejected claims that it

:17:00.:17:02.

is destroying valuable wetl`nd habitat like the area we were shown

:17:03.:17:09.

by campaigners in North Carolina. Some of the areas have wonddrful

:17:10.:17:15.

diverse wildlife, and those are carefully assessed and protdcted. We

:17:16.:17:20.

will only deal with pellet producers that produced biomass from `reas

:17:21.:17:25.

that are not protected, that are not defined as special habitats. To

:17:26.:17:33.

illustrate the concern, thex flew us over our area which had been cut

:17:34.:17:37.

down next to an area of protected habitat. Very little differdnce The

:17:38.:17:48.

question is, who made that definition? Where was the lhne drawn

:17:49.:17:53.

and must have been drawn by an expert. We as an industry whll try

:17:54.:17:58.

to be responsible but it is not our job to determine the law. From next

:17:59.:18:05.

April, the government is brhnging in new laws for the sourcing of

:18:06.:18:08.

biomass, mindful of habitat protection and carbon emisshons It

:18:09.:18:14.

is unclear how these will bd enforced 4000 miles away in the

:18:15.:18:20.

United States. But even thotgh the facility was opened by the Linister

:18:21.:18:25.

for climate change himself, he has declined repeated requests for an

:18:26.:18:29.

interview. There is continudd scientific debate about whether

:18:30.:18:34.

burning trees is better or worse than call for the environment. What

:18:35.:18:40.

is clear is that there is htge pressure for Drax to keep the lights

:18:41.:18:45.

on in the UK, and the company sees biomass is very much the future for

:18:46.:18:46.

this industrial giant. Well, it?s been said it will take

:18:47.:18:54.

the creation of a Northern lega city stretching from Liverpool to

:18:55.:18:58.

Newcastle to rebalance With Scotland likely to gain more

:18:59.:18:59.

power after the independencd vote, many feel it?s time

:19:00.:19:11.

for the Government to stop talking and act to ensure the North doesn?t

:19:12.:19:13.

fall further behind It?s a global hub that sucks in the

:19:14.:19:16.

brightest and best from all over But has it just become too big

:19:17.:19:28.

and powerful, leaving the North with Whitehall feels very far reloved

:19:29.:19:34.

from cities around the country. So is the North stuck

:19:35.:19:43.

on the slow train while Are we starting to generate

:19:44.:19:45.

the jobs needed to keep our brightest and best from heading

:19:46.:19:53.

to the already overheated c`pital? People think engineering is dying

:19:54.:19:58.

out, but there are so many jobs Working here, I?ve seen loads

:19:59.:20:01.

of opportunities I?ve never really It?s morning rush hour and H?m

:20:02.:20:06.

joining commuters I'm about to board a train to make

:20:07.:20:11.

a journey, that for many, is a symbol of the yawning gap

:20:12.:20:18.

between the North and London. I've joined Maurice Duffy, CEO of

:20:19.:20:25.

Blackswan, an international business Today he's off to Manchester

:20:26.:20:27.

to launch a new book. Anything between 2:30

:20:28.:20:36.

to 2:45. That's if it's on time, of course,

:20:37.:20:45.

and it doesn?t get delayed I?m guessing you could get to London

:20:46.:20:48.

in much the same time. I do Newcastle to London twhce

:20:49.:20:52.

a week and I can do that in 2:4 to three hours and that's

:20:53.:20:55.

an extra 120 miles longer. So we're chugging along

:20:56.:20:58.

on our transPennine journey, but many feel transport is just

:20:59.:21:04.

a symbol of what's holding ts back. People

:21:05.:21:07.

across the North were asked whether they agreed that the Governlent and

:21:08.:21:09.

Parliament were responsive to issues Manchester was the most

:21:10.:21:12.

positive with 21% agreeing. In Sheffield,

:21:13.:21:20.

that figure dropped to just 7%. Liverpool

:21:21.:21:24.

and Leeds were only marginally more positive at 8%, and in Hull

:21:25.:21:27.

and Newcastle the number was 14 . That's how little

:21:28.:21:34.

the North reckons London cares The Centre

:21:35.:21:36.

for Cities is an influential think I've come to meet

:21:37.:21:41.

its chief executive to find out how you go about bridging the g`p

:21:42.:21:46.

between London and the North. We talk to business and thex say

:21:47.:21:50.

if it's not London, it's New York. Usually second tier

:21:51.:21:57.

cities are a certain size, but with ours, Leeds and Manchester

:21:58.:22:01.

are not as big as you'd expdct. We would like to see not London

:22:02.:22:17.

shrinking but the second`tidr cities getting bigger.

:22:18.:22:21.

So is enough being done to rebalance England's economy?

:22:22.:22:24.

Around three quarters of people in Leeds and Newcastle belidve

:22:25.:22:26.

the location of Parliament in Westminster means political

:22:27.:22:28.

decisions are too focused on London in comparison to the rest of the UK.

:22:29.:22:31.

We would like to see more freedom for cities.

:22:32.:22:41.

Making sure that cities can decide far more how they can spend money on

:22:42.:22:45.

transport and skills. And if you're looking

:22:46.:22:50.

for evidence of bias in favour Spending on public transport in

:22:51.:22:52.

London amounts to ?5000 per head. Which leads many Northerners to

:22:53.:22:57.

question the sense of spendhng tens of billions on HS2 onlx to

:22:58.:23:02.

get people to London even qticker. Especially when you're stuck

:23:03.:23:09.

on the slow train. Getting Manchester and Leeds and

:23:10.:23:22.

Sheffield linked up better with public transport is hugely

:23:23.:23:28.

important. Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds have responded to the

:23:29.:23:31.

challenge set them by the Chancellor to compete more effectively with

:23:32.:23:32.

London. The cities want a 15`year transport

:23:33.:23:35.

infrastructure plan with It's great the five cities have come

:23:36.:23:46.

together to create a single plan that chimes with the plan I have set

:23:47.:23:48.

out. Cynics might say it?s easy to back

:23:49.:23:49.

such a plan But Scotland's no vote has

:23:50.:23:52.

reinforced the resentment of Yorkshire and the Humber has a

:23:53.:23:57.

population equivalent to Scotland's. Greater Manchester has almost

:23:58.:24:01.

as many as the whole of Walds. And Tyne and Wear is almost

:24:02.:24:04.

as big as Northern Ireland. Yet none of those English rdgions

:24:05.:24:07.

have anywhere near the same level of Many believe it's

:24:08.:24:10.

about time that changed. But back on the slow train ht

:24:11.:24:16.

could be decades before there's It?s 09:52,

:24:17.:24:19.

right? that?s nearly two hours to get

:24:20.:24:23.

from Newcastle to Leeds and we've Yes,

:24:24.:24:31.

at York the train was cancelled We hopped off

:24:32.:24:34.

and waited with the other p`ssengers 20 minutes later and we're

:24:35.:24:36.

on this train headed Look, this isn't some Northdrn

:24:37.:24:40.

whingeathon. Few believe the pavements of London

:24:41.:24:48.

are actually paved with gold. That?s what?s happened here

:24:49.:24:51.

at the Advanced Manufacturing Park on the border between Sheffheld

:24:52.:25:02.

and Rotherham. It's attracted 200 businessds,

:25:03.:25:06.

some small and some not so small. This is an innovative environment.

:25:07.:25:21.

Manufacturing is at a 20 ye`r high in this region.

:25:22.:25:24.

Performance Engineering Solttions was started up by Mike Maddock, an

:25:25.:25:26.

ex`Formula 1 racing team engineer and an entrepreneur from thd South.

:25:27.:25:30.

He hopes to expand fivefold in the next few years, if hd can get

:25:31.:25:33.

Today, his design team is working on a new high`tech golf putter

:25:34.:25:36.

and a factory cooling unit `s well as gear box for a wheelchair.

:25:37.:25:39.

70% of their design commisshons are for overseas clients.

:25:40.:25:48.

There has been a brain drain to the south but also out of the UK, and we

:25:49.:25:57.

need to stop that. It can provide more opportunities. London hs very

:25:58.:26:04.

busy, very big. I am from a mile down the road so it is great that I

:26:05.:26:07.

can be so close to home and be able to develop my skill set without

:26:08.:26:11.

moving further afield. I evdn looked at India and China at one point

:26:12.:26:19.

There is a huge shortage of engineers and the skills gap could

:26:20.:26:20.

stop the UK in its tracks. A hundred metres away they're

:26:21.:26:25.

working at fixing just that problem. The AMRC training centre has 40

:26:26.:26:29.

engineering apprentices with another 250 starting in September,

:26:30.:26:32.

all learning the skills they need for thd jobs

:26:33.:26:33.

they've already been guaranteed We spoke to two of the apprdntice is

:26:34.:26:43.

currently being trained as engineers. I applied to go to

:26:44.:26:49.

university but then this instead because I wanted the hands`on

:26:50.:26:57.

approach. The companies are small which is why most people have not

:26:58.:27:00.

heard of them but they can still take on apprentices.

:27:01.:27:05.

So they?ve got a bright futtre as engineers but at some st`ge they

:27:06.:27:08.

might need to travel farther afield for a job in another city.

:27:09.:27:10.

I?ve found that can be problematic anywhere across the North.

:27:11.:27:13.

We've been travelling now for 2 hours 45 minutes

:27:14.:27:18.

and we're sat outside Manchdster, we don?t know why.

:27:19.:27:21.

This train has travelled at an average of 60 miles an hour.

:27:22.:27:23.

That's a third as quickly as the one that goes

:27:24.:27:26.

Finally, journey's end and time to s`y

:27:27.:27:30.

farewell to Maurice who'll be back on the same slow train very soon.

:27:31.:27:33.

But it gives me a chance to see an example of how moving out

:27:34.:27:36.

of London can create thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions

:27:37.:27:39.

It was such an opportunity they even moved the most famous street in the

:27:40.:27:43.

What the BBC and ITV have done here is they have helped bring slaller

:27:44.:28:00.

media Enterprises year and created a hub.

:28:01.:28:02.

Media City is a 200 acre site which straddles the canal

:28:03.:28:05.

between Salford and Trafford, it's said to be the largest facility

:28:06.:28:08.

of its type in Europe and it came about through a political ddcision

:28:09.:28:11.

But this is just one small part of the jigsaw and it'll takd

:28:12.:28:22.

a lot more political will to move power and money from London to

:28:23.:28:25.

the North and enable our grdat cities to compete with the capital

:28:26.:28:28.

Scotland might have said no to independence

:28:29.:28:31.

And just south of the border that hasn't gone unnoticed.

:28:32.:28:45.

That's all for tonight but lake sure you join us next week. We'll be

:28:46.:28:51.

meeting some of the soldiers struggling to cope after serving in

:28:52.:28:55.

Afghanistan, healing the incredible story of the Chatsworth ban`na and

:28:56.:29:00.

visiting two cities vying for the title of city of ale.

:29:01.:29:07.

Hello, I'm Sam Naz with your 90-second update.

:29:08.:29:09.

14-year-old Alice Gross went missing three weeks ago.

:29:10.:29:12.

Today, police carried out a finger-tip search of

:29:13.:29:14.

600 officers, from eight forces, are working on the case.

:29:15.:29:19.

It has overestimated its profits by a quarter of a billion pounds.

:29:20.:29:23.

A new focus for Thai police looking into

:29:24.:29:30.

They plan to test the DNA of every man on the island where David Miller

:29:31.:29:35.

It is thought they were attacked by two Asian men.

:29:36.:29:39.

Arranging a sham gay wedding to get someone UK citizenship.

:29:40.:29:42.

A BBC investigation has found gangs will organise it for ?10,000.

:29:43.:29:47.

Inside Out brings you the stories that matter in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

This week, Paul Murphy examines claims that Drax power station's conversion from coal to so-called 'green' biomass energy is doing more harm than good to the environment. And Toby Foster asks whether we can bridge the north-south divide and bring more jobs and prosperity to the North of England.


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