Bleak Choice | Oxbridge Vest | Vertical Takeoff

In a week when heavyweight Tyson Fury was rightly praised for the most unlikely of sporting comebacks against Deontay Wilder - exorcising his mental-health demons and losing 10 stone before going toe-to-toe with the American for 12 rounds last Saturday - The Weekly wanted to highlight the bravery of a less high-profile sports star.  Sailing is rarely box office television entertainment, but the feats and risks involved in round-the-world endurance sailing were brought into sharp focus on Friday by yachtswoman Susie Goodall who had to be rescued from the middle of the Southern Pacific by a 40,000 tonne cargo ship. Goodall, the youngest competitor in the solo 'Golden Globe Race' had spent the previous two days adrift after her boat had pitchpoled (gone end-over-end) in 63 knot winds and de-masted.  Like Fury (who was twice knocked down by Wilder), the pitchpole was so violent it initially knocked her out.  Which leads to the obvious Sunday morning question. Given the (admittedly rather bleak) choice, which of the two scenarios would you go with;  Twelve rounds against the 6 ft 7 inch Deontay Wilder (boasting a knock-out to wind ratio of 95%), or a fight for survival in the middle of the Southern Pacific fighting 4 metre waves with no sail or motor??!  Probably time for another croissant while you ponder.

The Weekly was in the grand surroundings of Goodenough College in London this week for an interactive conference hosted by EG and Farmers Weekly entitled 'The Growth Corridor: The future of the UK economy?'.  The corridor in question is of course the brain-belt constituting the much vaunted Cambridge - Milton Keynes - Oxford arc, which Bidwells research suggests could contribute £400bn to the UK economy by 2050.  The ambition clearly runs high and the room was filled with representatives from central and local government, investors, landowners and house builders all espousing the opportunities the corridor presents.  New transport infrastructure (a renewed 'Varsity' rail line and an Oxford to Cambridge expressway) is central to the vision, but much of the focus of the conference was on the delivery of housing - the other key plank of the strategy - which will enable the predicted economic growth.  The vision for the corridor includes the delivery of 1 million new homes by 2050.  This is an ambition that can't be fulfilled by simply 'edge blobbing' existing settlements, but will require a top-down strategic approach to planning and delivery.  As Alex Robinson of Grosvenor was right to point out, this scale of development will also require buy-in from local people.  Failure to get that support from the people that live in the corridor could result in an Oxbridge 'Yellow Vest Movement' all of its own!

Picture a warehouse and you immediately think of a manufacturing facility or a logistics-style distribution unit piled high with stock.  Fast forward twenty years and we may find that an increasing number of warehouses are actually home to the rather futuristic concept of vertical farms, growing anything from salads leaves and herbs to cucumbers or strawberries. Already, farming pioneers in the UK are looking to build their capacity. Vertical farming enterprise 'Grow Up', for instance, is on the hunt for sheds of 5,500 square metres that could be capable of producing 1.5 tonnes of produce every day. As Savills stated in their recent edition of 'Aspects of Land', the advantages of vertical farming are numerous.  These range from sustainability - they are much more efficient in terms of land and water use - to year round production and supply.  With vertical farming you have a controlled environment (no Beast from the East, or increasingly hot summers to contend with!) and, as the technology improves, the yields will only grow.  The interest and potential is understandably huge. The global value of vertical farming is predicted to be US$9.9bn by 2025 and China, for example, has more than 40 government-backed institutes dedicated to the cause.  The concept of "shed-grown food" may take a little bit of getting used to in some quarters, but the theory of increasing our food security by growing crops indoors does seem to make sense!