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  1. West Country (W)

Seven Devon and Somerset towns to get superfast broadband

Seven rural towns and villages have been named as the first communities to benefit from the major £94 million scheme to get superfast internet.

By the end of this year, high-speed fibre optic broadband will start to become available in:

  • Moretonhampstead
  • Holsworthy
  • Sticklepath (near Okehampton)
  • Bradford on Tone
  • Bishops Lydeard
  • Creech St Michael
  • Monkton Heathfield (near Taunton)

Construction work for Sticklepath and Bradford on Tone has started three months early.

By early 2014, 15,000 homes and businesses in these areas will benefit from the new technology.

It is estimated that about 400,000 kilometres of optical fibre will need to be laid.

The first phase of the programme will also include extending fibre broadband in Taunton and Bridgwater, most of which have already been upgraded.

High speed fibre broadband is a key driver of economic growth and development. It has the potential to transform our rural businesses and communities, improve productivity, and enable business to access new markets while breaking down the digital divide within our communities. It will also improve and transform the delivery of public information and services.

– Councillor David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council

Tractor Wifi system at Glastonbury

A festival-goer on the phone at a previous Glastonbury Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Glastonbury Festival-goers will be able to keep in touch this week, thanks to an unlikely piece of farm equipment. One of festival organiser Michael Eavis's tractors has been converted into a 4G wifi hotspot. It will be driven around the site at Worthy Farm during this weekend's event.

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  1. National

NSA whistleblower: GCHQ 'tapped fibre-optic cables'

British intelligence agency GCHQ secretly accessed fibre-optic cables carrying huge amounts of internet and communications data, according to documents released by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The agency is able to tap into and store data from the cables for up to 30 days so it can be analysed under an operation codenamed Tempora, The Guardian reported.

GCHQ would not comment on intelligence matters but insisted it was "scrupulous" in complying with the law.

GCHQ headquarters in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

The newspaper said there were two principal components to the agency's surveillance programme, called Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation.

It claimed the data was shared with the organisation's US counterpart the National Security Agency (NSA).

The information is the latest leak from Mr Snowden, the whistleblower responsible for a string of disclosures about US intelligence operations.

  1. National

Rolls Royce sponsor British attempt at land speed record

Bloodhound project director Richard Noble pictured with the Bloodhound supersonic car. Credit: PA

British engine maker Rolls-Royce is to sponsor for the first time a bid to break a world land speed record, it was announced today.

The company is backing the Bristol-based Bloodhound project, which is focused on travelling at over 1,000mph and breaking the world land speed record.

A Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine will be used in conjunction with a custom designed hybrid rocket.

Next year the Bloodhound team are hoping to travel to South Africa to break the current land speed record of 763mph. They then will target the 1,000mph barrier.

Colin Smith, director of engineering and technology at Rolls-Royce, said the firm will also provide financial and technical support for the project.

"Cutting edge engineering keeps Rolls-Royce and the UK at the forefront of global business," he said.

Bloodhound supercar project receives sponsorship

A scale mock model of the Bloodhound supersonic car. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Rolls-Royce has announced they are sponsoring the Bloodhound project.

The Bristol-based team are aiming to get a car to reach a landspeed record of 1,000 mph.

The company will provide financial and technical support. The engine used is one created by the company itself.

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Rolls-Royce gives £1m to Bristol Aerospace Centre

Rolls-Royce will donate a million pounds to towards the establishment of the Bristol Aerospace Centre at Filton. It will also supply a number of heritage engines to the exhibition, including the Olympus 593, which powered Concorde.

It will be displayed alongside Concorde 216, the last of the super-sonic planes to fly.

Union leader calls for nuclear power talks

The leader of the union representing 21,000 workers in the nuclear decommissioning and energy supply industry has called on all parties involved in negotiations to redouble their efforts to reach agreement on a strike price for electricity generated by the planned Hinkley Point C in Somerset.

Alan Leighton, the National Secretary of Prospect, made his comments following today's announcement from EDF that it plans to scale back on preparatory work for the project and reduce the number of people working on it in a bid to control costs.

"Our members' fear that any delay in the preparation work could impede or delay EDF's ability to bring the project to fruition once agreement has been reached.Prospect is committed to an appropriate energy mix for the UK, including gas and renewables, but it is undoubtedly the case that nuclear and nuclear new build will be pivotal if we are to achieve the twin goals of capacity and security of supply.

We hope that this announcement will encourage all involved in the talks to redouble their efforts to agree a strike price. Particularly as it comes so soon after the recent warning from outgoing Ofgem head, Alistair Buchanan, that we are facing an imminent capacity crunch in the UK unless urgent action is taken.Without an agreement we risk losing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to meet the country's decarbonisation targets and help build a new economy that provides good quality jobs and growth for the UK."

– Alan Leighton, National Secretary, Prospect Union

Big order for Airbus from British Airways

Airbus A350 Credit: Patrick Bernard/ABACA/Press Association Images

The parent company of British Airways has confirmed it's ordered 18 new Airbus A350 aircraft for its longhaul fleet. The planes which are partly designed at the Airbus site in Filton, will be delivered by 2018 in a three point nine billion pound deal.

BA have also bought 12 Airbus A380 superjumbos.

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