Brokenshire defends 'uniquely qualified' design champion

Reports that the housing secretary has defended his new adviser on 'beautiful buildings' following claims that the latter has espoused Islamophobic and homophobic opinions feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The philosopher Sir Roger Scruton was appointed earlier this month as chairman of the Building Better, Building Beautiful commission. Last week he faced calls to quit after the press unearthed past comments he has made on topics ranging from Islam to homosexualtity. Today’s Telegraph reports that housing secretary James Brokenshire said that Scruton is"uniquely qualified" for the role, adding: "It saddens me that he should be subject to the kind of misinformed, ill-judged and very personal attacks of the kind that we have seen. We live in a free society where people can hold different opinions."

The Guardian reports that the global energy watchdog has warned that "the world has so many existing fossil fuel projects that it cannot afford to build any more polluting infrastructure without busting international climate change goals". The paper says that, according to the International Energy Agency, "almost all of the world’s carbon budget up to 2040 – the amount that can be emitted without causing dangerous warming – would be eaten up by today’s power stations, vehicles and industrial facilities".

The Guardian reports that the government’s plan to tackle air pollution in some of the worst affected cities in the UK is unravelling into a "shambolic and piecemeal mess, according to environmental lawyers". The paper says: "ClientEarth, which has successfully defeated the government three times in court, said the emphasis on local authorities taking action was backfiring with no joined-up strategy, delays and poorly researched proposals."

The Times (subscription) reports that a senior government official has warned that a third runway at Heathrow "would not be enough to satisfy passenger demand for flights within the next 30 years". The paper says that Sarah Bishop, deputy director of aviation policy at the Department for Transport, said that estimates for passenger numbers made three years ago are "already looking quite out of date, with demand at a national level growing ten per cent faster" than assumed.

The Times reports that international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt "has told Cabinet colleagues that she wants Britain to withdraw from Unesco, the UN cultural and education body". The paper says that Mordaunt’s "request to end the £11.1 million funding at the end of next year triggered concern among colleagues including Theresa May and Michael Gove, as well as in the Foreign Office". Unesco has powers to designate and dedesignate world heritage sites.

The Times also reports that "the daily commute has increased by five minutes over the past decade despite the billions of pounds spent on the road and rail network". The paper says that, according to research by the TUC, the average employee spent 18 hours longer travelling to and from work last year than in 2007.

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