New fracking sites could soon be springing up across the country.

Fracking: Britain's big balancing act

Shale gas is certainly controversial, but Brits may be more willing to accept it as the desperation for cheaper energy bills takes hold.

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85% of Scottish firms haven't planned for Yes vote

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond will be hoping the businesses' guesses are wrong.
Scottish first minister Alex Salmond will be hoping the businesses' guesses are wrong. Credit: PA

More than eight out of ten businesses in Scotland do not yet have plans in place to deal with the result of the referendum if the country votes for independence, a new survey has revealed.

Almost 84% of Scottish firms that were questioned in the latest KPMG Business Instincts Survey said they had not yet considered a continuity plan for how to deal with changes if there is a Yes vote on September 18.

Issues such as potential changes to the tax regime if Scotland left the UK, the impact of any change in currency and the impact trade with the rest of the UK are businesses' main concerns, according to the survey.

Leisure aspect of shopping trip 'a significant driver'

The leisure aspects of a shopping trip is a significant driver in where consumers chose to shop, according to a wide ranging survey.

Researchers at Southampton University found:

  • There has been a modest resurgence in specialist retailers such as artisanal bakers, butchers and tea and coffee merchants in high streets.
  • Retailers are exploiting opportunities created by on-line shopping - particularly with the rise in click and collect buying. Within five years, seven out of ten on-line shoppers will prefer to collect goods themselves rather than risk missing a delivery at home.
  • The leisure aspect of shopping trips is a significant driver of footfall and that high streets that include a good range of cafes, bars, restaurants not only increase the dwell time but the average spent during trips to town.

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High Streets 'adapting' to changing consumer demands

Britain's High Streets may be enjoying a rejuvenation after a wide ranging study found town centres were adapting to the demands of modern consumers with more convenience stores.

Read: Convenience store openings offset dwindling High Street

High Street
The British High Street had been in the throws of long-term decline. Credit: PA

A long-term investigation into British shopping habits from researchers at Southampton University, found the definition of convenience had changed for consumers.

Convenience retail on high streets, both independently and corporately owned, experienced significant growth over the past 15 years which was sustained during the economic crisis and subsequent period of austerity, the report finds.

Modern shoppers were more inclined to see convenience as topping up their groceries on a daily basis, rather than buying everything bulk by visiting an out-of-town shopping centre, the report said.

Read: 'Biggest drop in shoppers' on the High Street in a year

Lloyds chairman: Conduct was 'truly shocking'

The chairman of Lloyds Banking Group has admitted the company's manipulation of key interest rates was "truly shocking".

The company has been slapped with a £218m fine from US and UK regulators for manipulating the LIBOR inter-bank rate and the Repo Rate.

The Repo Rate was the benchmark used by the Bank of England to calculate how much banks paid to take part in the Government's Special Liquidity Scheme (SLS) to support banks during the financial crisis.

Lloyds Banking Group's chairman admitted it had been guilty of 'shocking conduct'.
Lloyds Banking Group's chairman admitted it had been guilty of 'shocking conduct'. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Lloyds chairman Lord Blackwell has replied to a highly critical letterwritten to him by the Bank of England's governor, Mark Carney.

"I absolutely share your concern about the nature of the SLS conduct, and in particular its implication for reducing fees," Lord Blackwell wrote.

"This was truly shocking conduct, undertaken when the Bank was on a lifeline of public support."

He also agreed that Lloyds would pay nearly £8m back to the Bank of England for fees it should have paid for the SLS.

Read: Lloyds fined for fixing fees for taxpayer help

Mark Carney warns of 'further action' against Lloyds

The governor of the Bank of England has warned that Lloyds and its subsidiary Bank of Scotland could face "further action" over the manipulation of benchmark interest rates.

In a letter to Lloyds chairman Lord Blackwell, Mark Carney said the BoE's Prudential Regulatory Authority would now consider whether to take further steps.

"In view of the seriousness of this matter, the PRA will consider whether further action should be taken in relation to the Firms or individuals at the Firms."

The banks have been fined for manipulation of the LIBOR rate and Repo Rate.

Bank of Scotland was formerly part of HBOS, which was taken over by Lloyds in 2009.

Read: Mark Carney: Lloyds actions 'clearly unlawful'

Mark Carney: Lloyds actions 'clearly unlawful'

The governor of the Bank of England has strongly condemned Lloyds Banking Group for its attempts to manipulate two key interest rates.

Part of Lloyds' £218m fine from US and UK regulators relates to its attempts to reduce the fees it paid to the Bank of England for the Special Liquidity Scheme - a government programme to help struggling banks during the financial crisis.

Mark Carney was highly critical of Lloyds' conduct.
Mark Carney was highly critical of Lloyds' conduct. Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Bank of England has now published a letter from governor Mark Carney to the chairman of Lloyds, Lord Blackwell.

"Such manipulation is highly reprehensible, clearly unlawful and may amount to criminal conduct on the part of the individuals involved," Mr Carney wrote.

Read: Lloyds fined for fixing fees for taxpayer help

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National Trust: Protect nature reserves from fracking

Nature reserves are not currently among the protected fracking areas.
Nature reserves are not currently among the protected fracking areas. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive

The National Trust has welcomed new government guidelines dictating that applications for fracking in protected areas such as National Parks should be refused in all but "exceptional" circumstances.

The organisation said it was "right" that the Government addressed concerns about the impact on "special places", but called for the measures to be extended to nature reserves and other wildlife sites.

This is a significant change in approach from DECC. We hope it will reflect a much more cautious approach that recognises the risks of turning some of the most special places in the country over to industrial scale extraction of shale gas and oil.

– Richard Hebditch, National Trust

Lloyds fined for fixing fees for taxpayer help

About £70 million of Lloyds' fine from financial regulators is for trying to manipulate the fees payable to the Bank of England for taking part in a government scheme to support British banks during the financial crisis.

The group is set to pay a total of £218 million to UK and US authorities after it became the latest lender to be punished over the rigging of interest rate benchmarks.

Lloyds has been hit by fines from both US and UK regulators.
Lloyds has been hit by fines from both US and UK regulators. Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Lloyds said the manipulation took place between May 2006 and 2009, adding that those involved have either left the company, been suspended or are subject to disciplinary proceedings.

Barclays was the first to settle Libor rate-rigging claims, paying £290 million in penalties to US and UK regulators in June 2012, while state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland was hit with a £391 million settlement.

Read: Facts about Libor and the banking scandal

Lloyds Bank to pay £218m fine for rate manipulation

Lloyds Banking Group has agreed to pay fines worth £218 million to UK and US regulators in relation to the manipulation of Libor.

Lloyds bank
Lloyds Banking Group has agreed to pay fines worth £218 million. Credit: Press Association

The US authorities have charged the bank with "manipulation, attempted manipulation and false reporting of Libor" between April 2008 and September 2009.

The firms manipulated the benchmark interest rate at which banks lend money to each other in order to reduce the amount it paid in fees to Bank of England.

'Giant loophole could allow fracking in National Parks'

Campaigners have argued that rules protecting National Parks from fracking could be bypassed due to a "giant loophole".

Many local communities have shown resistance to plans for fracking.
Many local communities have shown resistance to plans for fracking in their areas. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive

The Government has said fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and the Broads should be refused other than in "exceptional circumstances and in the public interest".

But environmentalists warned that as ministers have indicated that developing shale gas and oil resources is in the interests of the country, the rules could allow fracking in protected areas.

Official guidance states that if proposed development for shale oil or gas would lead to substantial harm or to loss of a World Heritage Site, planners should refuse consent "unless wholly exceptional circumstances apply".

Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Simon Clydesdale said: "By introducing an exception under a vague 'public interest' case, they've created a giant loophole that could allow fracking all over these protected areas, potentially causing serious environmental damage to our unique natural heritage."

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