Major changes for government renewable energy subsidies

 
Centrica Energy Lincs offshore wind farm off the Lincolnshire coast Subsidies for offshore windfarms are set to rise at the expense of onshore options

The government is to make big changes to the way it subsidises renewable energy, it has announced.

Ministers say they will cut support for onshore wind and solar energy, but give more backing to offshore wind power.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander described the shift in subsidy as "a rebalancing" and said overall spending would not change.

But Labour said "chopping and changing" pricing was bad for business.

The price producers are promised for onshore wind power and solar energy will be cut from 2015, while the amount paid for offshore wind power will be increased.

The shift on wind energy comes ahead of Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement, which he will deliver to MPs on Thursday.

Other pre-statement announcements include:

  • Details of the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP), with plans for £375bn of investment in energy, transport, communications, and water projects
  • The NIP also entails selling off the government's 40% stake in the Eurostar rail service as part of a plan to double the target for the sale of corporate and financial assets, from £10bn to £20bn, between 2014 and 2020
  • It features a further £50m for a redevelopment of the railway station at Gatwick Airport and financial support for the development of a new nuclear power station at Wylfa, north Wales
  • There is also confirmation that a UK guarantee has now been agreed for the £1bn Northern Line extension to Battersea in London
  • Road projects in the NIP include improvements to the A50 around Uttoxeter, in Staffordshire, and improvements to the A14 around the port of Felixstowe in Suffolk
  • The BBC has learned that Mr Osborne also plans to cap business rate rises in England and Wales next year at 2% instead of having them linked to inflation

UK wind energy statistics

  • There are 4,175 onshore turbines, with a total capacity of 6,772 megawatts
  • There are 1,075 offshore turbines, with a total capacity of 3,653 megawatts
  • Combined, these produce 25,278,340 megawatt hours of energy
  • This is enough to power 5,925,537 homes

Source: trade association RenewableUK

Sources from both coalition parties said there had been so much investment in onshore wind and solar energy that they no longer needed so much state support.

In contrast, they said, offshore wind sources still needed more subsidy to encourage long-term investment.

Mr Alexander denied suggestions the move was a response to Conservative MPs' unhappiness at wind farms being sited in their constituencies.

Both Conservative and Liberal Democrat sources said the decision made good political sense because they would have a policy that countered the threat from the UK Independence Party, which opposes all wind farms on principle.

Strike prices - the amount the government guarantees to pay per unit of electricity - are set substantially above the current value of energy, as a form of long-term subsidy to encourage firms to invest.

One Conservative source said he expected "quite a dramatic cut" in prices for onshore wind in 2015 and beyond. Another spoke of the "beginning of the end for mature renewables".

A wind farm at twilight

One source said: "We are in a very good place. If we didn't curtail onshore a bit, we would have so much onshore that the constraint wouldn't be financial but political. Ditto solar.

Analysis

The subsidy cut makes onshore wind cheaper than nuclear power this decade - and much cheaper in the long term.

But after hinting at big cuts in onshore turbines, ministers have made only a slight reduction - and this may not lead to many projects being cancelled.

The money that ministers shave off the onshore subsidy is transferred to offshore wind.

But offshore generation is much more expensive, so every pound shifted this way generates less electricity. And that in turn slightly increases the chances of blackouts in 2015.

The decisions on renewables are driven by conflicting priorities.

The government wants to disarm a campaign against onshore wind farms; encourage a world-leading offshore wind industry; gain as much energy as possible for the cheapest price; and meet UK and EU targets on clean power.

That's politics.

"So constraining solar and onshore makes good value-for-money sense, it lets us move quicker than expected to market forces, and enables us to ensure that the one renewable technology that can go to scale in the 2020s - offshore wind - gets the early support that an immature technology needs."

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said costs must be spread "much more fairly".

Downing Street denied that cuts in subsidies for onshore wind farms were in response to public concern that they were blighting the countryside.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: "The decision was based purely on the falling cost of onshore wind farms".

But, for Labour, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie told BBC Radio 5 live: "They're just chopping and changing all the time - very bad for stable, long-term investment."

Gordon MacDougall, chief operating officer of renewable energy firm RES, added: "This announcement is a blow for investor confidence and will cut the deployment of onshore wind - the lowest-cost renewable energy technology in the UK's energy mix.

"By undermining onshore wind before it reaches maturity and substituting it with more expensive low-carbon energy, the cost to the consumer will increase."

* Mr Osborne will update MPs on the state of the economy from 11:15 GMT on Thursday, with live coverage and analysis of the Autumn Statement on the BBC news website, BBC TV and radio.

 

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  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 830.

    @822.lundgren

    The BBC figure is MWh per year, my figure is MWh per year. The BBC should have specified 'per year', since watt-hours are only meaningful when time is factored in, but it can't realistically be anything else. Sloppy journalism, but where's the fraud?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 829.

    @639. BLT

    "We will eventually run out of oil." - Yes but until that long distant time we will have a steady supply.

    "Will we eventually run out of wind?" - Yes, every day the wind changes, strengthens or dies, try running your TV on that. Imagine the day that you can only watch TV when there's enough wind!

    Scrap all Wind and Solar subsidies! Invest in Nuclear Power!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 828.

    816.Sixp
    Remember, renewable are a long term investment.
    =
    Is nuclear not also "long term" for example?

    How odd it is that so many people trust the same warmongering mob who rewarded failed bankers with bonuses out of your hard earned wages, instead of dragging them through bankruptcy court, to be able to wisely invest strangers' wages at all.

    Naiveté is an infinite resource it seems.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 827.

    814. Arcid
    Of that "highly contaminated water" the most radioactive that was observed was about 10 times as radioactive as orange juice (which is itself too radioactive to legaly discharge from a nuclear power plant)
    ==
    Factually rubbish I'm afraid, IAEA has found 300 tonnes of "highly radioactive water".
    This was (is) a major disaster, stop trying to gloss over it for your pro nuclear agenda.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 826.

    a) 789.jgm2
    32 Minutes ago

    A lot of Scotland is blanket bog so I'd have thought just buying a couple of acres - after viewing to make sure of course, would supply you with a lifetime of free energy.

    Good shout! Not as cheap for land as I had hoped, but most of Scotland is owned by a tiny number of people, of course.

    b) Big solar farm in Dorset - on the Drax estate. Old money, see.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 825.

    Thorium(LFTR) is obviously a choice for politically stable countries.
    While it certainly doesn't eliminate the risk of proliferation it does reduce it.
    LFTR's strong points are that it produces approx 200times less waste(which is also much shorter lived) than conventional reactors as and is completely passively safe and unpressurised.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 824.

    Madness. If it's profitable then let private companies (regulated) invest and get a return. If it's not then let it be state run so the outlay is a low as it can be, at the moment we've got the worst of both worlds, private profit with public capital and now nuclear will follow the same route.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 823.

    @782 Someone said something like, 'business expects a return in about five years'

    Not British investors, aka capitalist hyenas. They want a return tomorrow, if not sooner.

    Anyway 'smoke and mirrors' doesn't do this situation justice. What Osborne and Alexander bring to mind, appropriately in my view, the crazed world of 'Through The Looking Glass,' '...Jam tomorrow...'

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 822.

    .Dan_Dover


    "Combined, these produce 25,278,340 megawatt hours of energy
    That figure has NEVER been attained, nor is it likely to"

    6,772 MW onshore plus 3,653 MW offshore, 24 hours a day, over a year gives a maximum output of 91,323,000 MWh. The figure quoted is barely a quarter of this, so it's hardly the fraud you claim
    converting MWH hours to MWY and comparing them is fraud!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 821.

    Thorium reactor byproducts can and have been used in nuclear bombs. The cleanup is just as costly and the supposed 'safety' features leave you with a huge pile of very corrosive, reactive, radioactive and poisonous waste as bad or worse than they have at Three mile island, Chernobyl and Fukushima. The cleanup at oakridge has cost a lot more than expected and been much harder.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 820.

    783

    Sorry to be pedantic, but you cannot take your blindfold off unless you are already awake

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 819.

    @798.HilaryJ

    haha'

    What Radiation are you on about:-

    Alpha
    Beta
    Delta
    Gamma

    Etc....

    What type did the airline passengers, pilots and staff get exposed to and where from, as it was most defiantly was not from Fukushima, oh and 35,000 feet up you only receive 0.019% more radiation from galactic sources Inc. the sun than at sea level " so your at ZERO risk.

    Read more please:)

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 818.

    Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University "Why is Wind Power So Expensive?"
    http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/hughes-windpower.pdf

    This has to come via sources that the BBC doesn't like to visit, because some else told them they shouldn't, and the BBC openly, brazenly, claim to be unable to find enough cAGW sceptics.

    That should be a badge of shame for self-respecting journalists.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 817.

    This is excellent news for those who when threatened by onshore wind farms do the research to find they're really just old technology disguised as something new. They are incapable of satisfying our energy needs and will always need 'spinning' back up, which has to be run inefficiently and invariably needed. Onshore WT's are a blight on those unfortunate enough to live close to them.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 816.

    813. lundgren
    Renewables cannot compete with non-renewables, their costs of operation are just too high

    ==

    Remember though renewables are a long term investment.

    Fossil fuels will become extremely expensive in the next 40 or 50 years as supplies run low.

    Energy policy needs to take a long term view, both in terms of pollution and energy costs.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 815.

    Thorium(LFTR) is definitely the best bet for reliable cheap clean and abundant energy without the risks of conventional nuclear reactors and with orders of magnitude less waste.
    Especially when it comes to energy intensive processes like synthesizing clean and reasonably cheap hydrocarbon fuels from water and atmospheric CO2.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 814.

    #807 yes there is a lot of cleaning up to do, but that doesn't mean that people should panic and stupidly exagerate the dangers. Of that "highly contaminated water" the most radioactive that was observed was about 10 times as radioactive as orange juice (which is itself too radioactive to legaly discharge from a nuclear power plant)

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 813.

    Be careful on defunding renewable energy sources. Some of the consequences will be cheaper energy, loss of wind farms, and the economy actually growing. Renewables cannot compete with non-renewables, their costs of operation are just too high

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 812.

    To widen the discussion, is it feasible for countries to join forces & plant billions upon billions of trees worldwide, thereby giving nature the resources to fight perceived global warming, while Governments at best tinker with the problem. And, maybe feed the seas with billions of tons of mass produced culturised plankton which absorb CO2. Or, did Blair fib saying "CO2, biggest threat since...."

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 811.

    So nothing for dying oceans or forests !

 

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  20.  
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  36.  
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  37.  
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    The Havengore docked in London

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  38.  
    11:31: Havengore 50 years ago
    Winston Churchill's coffin on a boat - the Havengore - on the Thames on the day of his funeral

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  39.  
    11:29: Stephen O'Sullivan

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  40.  
    11:21:

    If you have any pictures of Churchill's state funeral 50 years ago, or other relevant pictures you'd like to share, please send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk.

     
  41.  
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    Winston Churchill with US President Franklin Roosevelt in 1943

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  43.  
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    Winston Churchill making a speech during the 1945 election campaign

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  44.  
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  45.  
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  46.  
    10:52: Cameron lays wreath
    David Cameron lays a wreath at Churchill ceremony

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  47.  
    10:51: Migrant election vote BBC News Channel

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  48.  
    10:46: Havengore ceremony BBC News Channel
    BBC's Ben Brown

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  49.  
    10:39: Migrant election vote

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  50.  
    10:34: A million mourners
    People standing on roofs to see Churchill's funeral

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  51.  
    @PhilippaBBC 10:28: Live ceremony Philippa Thomas BBC News

    tweets: We'll have live ceremony coverage @BBCWorld 1245 #GMT MT @BBCArchive: Churchill's political career #BBCChurchill

     
  52.  
    10:26: 'Fitting tribute'

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  53.  
    @bbcArchive 10:24: Share your memories BBC Archive

    tweets: Do you remember the day of Churchill's funeral? Share your memories with us #BBCChurchill pic.twitter.com/5gzSwuWKsP

    BBC graphic
     
  54.  
    10:23: Churchill in numbers
    Winston Churchill doing a radio interview in 1928

    Churchill's career in the House of Commons began in 1900 and spanned 64 years, the longest in the 20th Century. While he was a member of the Commons, Churchill sat for two parties, represented five constituencies and contested 21 elections. He held numerous ministerial positions and served as prime minister twice.

     
  55.  
    10:00: 'Unprecedented funeral'

    Former BBC correspondent Martin Bell tells the BBC News Channel that Churchill's state funeral was "unprecedented - we will not see the likes of it again". He says the nation was "absolutely riveted" by the funeral. "It was very quiet, dignified, almost devotional - it's hard to imagine anyone drawing that kind of emotion, it was the passing of a great man," he says.

     
  56.  
    @BenBrownBBC 09:51: Ben Brown, BBC News Presenter

    tweets: On board HMS Belfast for BBC news channel coverage of 50th anniversary of Sir Winston's state funeral #Churchill2015

     
  57.  
    09:45: 'Inspired a nation'

    Prime Minister David Cameron, who is attending a remembrance service for Sir Winston Churchill at the Houses of Parliament, says the wartime leader's legacy "continues to inspire not only the nation whose liberty he saved, but the entire world". He adds: "2015 is a year to remember Winston Churchill's extraordinary life of achievement, to admire and to celebrate it anew, and to give thanks for his service not only to the country he loved, but to humanity as a whole."

     
  58.  
    09:34: 'Touched nation's heart'

    Churchill had "touched the nation's heart", his great-grandson said. "The story of how he first entered politics, he fought 19 general elections, and he was not always right on the issues, but people so admired what he managed to do in 1940 to inspire a nation and lead them through his great speeches and oratory. So he retains a very warm place in the nation's heart and the family have been bowled over by all the coverage."

     
  59.  
    09:33: 'Proud day'
    Randolph Churchill lays a wreath at the statue of his great-grandfather Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square

    The great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill says the wartime leader would be "surprised but thrilled" at the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of his state funeral. Randolph Churchill, who was accompanied by Churchill's grandaughter Celia Sandys, says it is a "proud day" after he laid a wreath at the statue of the leader in Parliament Square.

     
  60.  
    09:12: Churchill anniversary

    A reminder that BBC Parliament is re-broadcasting the state funeral of the UK's wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill in about five minutes.

    Crowds lining a London street as the coffin of Sir Winston Churchill passes along
     
  61.  
    08:54: 'Different election' BBC Radio 4

    Back to contemporary politics for a moment. Former Labour minister Peter Hain says he believes more and more people will "swing behind" Ed Miliband as the election approaches. He rejects claims by his former colleague Alan Milburn that the election could be a repeat of 1992 - which Labour narrowly lost. "I don't recognise 1992 at all and I went through that election," he tells Today. "This is a very different election."

     
  62.  
    08:48: 'Britain at a standstill'

    "It was the day Britain came to a standstill, the world watched and an era passed" - BBC South of England Correspondent Duncan Kennedy looks back at the day of Winston Churchill's funeral - 30 January 1965.

     
  63.  
    08:40: Controversial Churchill

    For some, Sir Winston Churchill remains an intensely controversial figure. The BBC's Tom Heyden writes about the 10 greatest controversies of Churchill's career.

    Churchill statue, Westerham
     
  64.  
    08:31: Churchill's place in history BBC Radio 4

    Historians Simon Heffer and Andrew Roberts have been discussing Sir Winston Churchill's place in history on Today and considering how he would have adapted to contemporary politics. They agree it is "completely impossible" to compare him with today's leaders as they face lesser challenges and "you need the crisis to create the statesman". Simon Heffer says Churchill would have struggled with modern media scrutiny given his fondness for whisky first thing in the morning and his "dictatorial" style. But Andrew Roberts says Churchill never over-ruled his generals and the "granite" he showed in 1940 and 1941 undisputedly make him the greatest occupant of No 10.

     
  65.  
    08:15: NHS row BBC Radio 5 live

    Labour's shadow health minister Liz Kendall tells BBC 5 live Breakfast that former Labour health minister Lord Darzi is "wrong" for thinking that using the private sector is the way to make "the big changes we need" to public services like the NHS. "I just don't think that that's the case," she says. It comes after Lord Darzi told the BBC the NHS should prefer providers who deliver the highest quality care - whether they are "public, private or not-for-profit".

     
  66.  
    08:02: 'Million-strong crowd' BBC Breakfast

    The BBC's Duncan Kennedy, outside St. Paul's Cathedral in central London, tells BBC Breakfast a million-strong crowd gathered between the cathedral and Westminster Abbey for Sir Winston Churchill's funeral 50 years ago. "In many places it was 20-people deep as many regarded him as the greatest Englishman who ever lived... he's one of those rare leaders that is remembered in life and in death, however history ultimately judges him," he says.

     
  67.  
    07:51: Churchill's funeral BBC Radio 4

    Broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby tells Today he will be watching the replay of Sir Winston Churchill's funeral on BBC Parliament this morning. It will be poignant for him, he says, since his father Richard - whose commentary on the event has lived so long in the memory - also died 50 years ago.

     
  68.  
    @BBCBenThompson 07:41: Housing shortage

    BBC business correspondent Ben Thompson tweets: 150,000 new homes built across UK last year but is it enough if demand still outstripping supply? @CountrysideProp boss - 0750 @BBCBreakfast

     
  69.  
    07:37: Behind the scenes at Westminster

    Parliament is not sitting today due to events marking the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's funeral. But those wanting a different insight into how the famous institution works might like to read about a new BBC documentary - Inside the Commons - to be broadcast next week. Michael Cockerell and his team have been behind the scenes at Westminster and not all MPs have been happy about it.

    Documentary-maker Michael Cockerell
     
  70.  
    @BBCr4today 07:28: Medical training BBC Radio 4

    tweets: Plan to reduce length of medical training will lead to "lower standard of expertise" @thomasdolphin, @TheBMA #r4today

     
  71.  
    07:20: 'Dirtiest campaign' The Independent

    Ukip leader Nigel Farage says this general election could be the "dirtiest" campaign in British history. Writing in the Independent, he accused the Conservatives and Labour of employing "attack-campaign" election strategists and "hurling hundreds of thousands of pounds at Facebook and twitter".

     
  72.  
    07:07: Funeral film BBC Radio 4

    The TV pictures of Sir Winston Churchill's funeral remain "compelling viewing" 50 years on, James Rowland from BBC Archive says. There was a "little bit of damage" on the original film and dirt that had to be cleaned off, he tells Radio 4's Today, prior to its rebroadcast on BBC Parliament today. He reflects on the fairly rudimentary camerawork used in 1965, compared to today's standards, remarking that the pictures seem "slightly twitchy".

     
  73.  
    07:06: Churchill event timings

    Here are some of the 50th anniversary timings if you want to plan your day:

    • The Houses of Parliament will host a remembrance service and wreath-laying ceremony at 09:00 GMT
    • BBC Parliament is re-broadcasting the state funeral, which runs for a little over four hours, at 09:15 GMT.
    • Tower Bridge will be raised at 12:45 GMT as the Havengore repeats its 1965 journey from the Tower of London to Westminster
    • Westminster Abbey will host a ceremony from 18:00 GMT, with flowers laid at the green marble stone placed there in memorial to Churchill.
     
  74.  
    06:58: Churchill anniversary
    The Havengore carrying Sir Winston Churchill's coffiin along the Thames

    A bit more about what's happening in London later to mark the 50th anniversary of the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. The Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey will both host remembrance services, and there'll be a ceremony recreating the flotilla which carried Churchill's coffin along the Thames from the Tower of London to Westminster Pier. Members of Churchill's family will travel along the Thames on the Havengore, which carried his coffin 50 years ago.

     
  75.  
    06:51: 'Three parent baby law'
    Daily Telegraph

    And the Daily Telegraph's lead is on concern from the Church of England that legislation is being rushed through to allow children to be born with three genetic "parents". The technique - mitrochondrial DNA transfer - is being promoted as a way to combat a series of inherited medical conditions.

     
  76.  
    06:45: 'Religious slaughter of animals'
    The Times

    Meanwhile, the Times leads on a big rise in the number of food animals slaughtered without stunning. The British Veterinary Association - which wants the practice banned from Britain - says the number of animals killed in this way has risen by 60%. The paper says this is because of campaigning by Muslims for traditional slaughter methods.

     
  77.  
    06:41: 'Migrant voting power'
    The i

    Migration is the focus of the i newspaper. It says immigrants could decide the result in 70 marginal seats, and Conservatives fear "migrant voting power" could cost them the election.

     
  78.  
    06:36: 'Gas bill rip-off'
    Daily Express

    It's a "gas bill rip-off" for the Daily Express, which says figures show the big six energy suppliers are enjoying bumper profits, as temperatures plummet. The paper says the big firms will pocket an extra £114 per household in the coming year.

     
  79.  
    06:34: The newspapers
    The Guardian

    A quick look at what's making the headlines in the newspapers. Energy prices take a prominent place in a few, with the Guardian saying real take-home pay is less now than it was in 2001, according to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Men and young workers have noticed the greatest fall in spending power, the paper adds.

     
  80.  
    06:28: Missed Newsnight and This Week?

    Don't worry if you weren't glued to your telly seven hours ago - you can catch up with the full editions of Question Time and This Week by clicking on the 'Live Coverage' tab on this page.

     
  81.  
    06:24: Cameron tribute to Churchill
    Winston Churchill statue outside parliament

    Last night Downing Street released the text of the message on the wreath David Cameron will lay at the statue of Winston Churchill, which stands just outside the Commons chamber. The PM has written: "Britain was so incredibly fortunate that in our hour of greatest need there came forward one of our greatest ever statesmen. 50 years on the light has not dimmed. David Cameron."

     
  82.  
    06:22: Churchill anniversary
    Richard Dimbleby Richard Dimbleby commentating on Sir Winston Churchill's state funeral for the BBC

    Fifty years to the day, BBC Parliament is re-broadcasting the state funeral of the UK's wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill. Introduced by Sir Winston's grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, the historic broadcast runs for a little over four hours. Fourteen reels of film, complete with impeccable commentary by Richard Dimbleby, have been restored, joined and re-mastered. The showing starts at 09:15 GMT.

     
  83.  
    06:20: Good morning Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    Hello and welcome to a fresh day's coverage of political developments ahead of the 7 May General Election - yes there's just 97 days to go now. You'll be able to listen or watch all the BBC's political output today on this page and we'll be bringing you all the best clips, quotes, analysis, reaction and breaking political news throughout the day. If you want to see what to expect, here's yesterday's campaign countdown.

     

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