Pembroke: There is power in a chicken

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The Independent Online
Your electric kettle will be running on chicken droppings sooner rather than later if a Suffolk company gets its way. Fibropower, a forerunner in the brave new world of alternative energy, opened the UK's first poultry litter-powered power station deep in Bernard Matthews territory 18 months ago, selling the electricity into the national grid.

Now the management has set up a new joint venture under the rather uninspiring name Fibrowatt (what's wrong with Elec-chick or Dungpower?). The grand design is to build a further four poultry litter-fired power stations in locations from Scotland to Herefordshire.

The operation is enough to blow the mind and fill the nostrils with all kinds of agricultural odours. Each plant runs on an average of 300,000 tons a year of chicken droppings, freighted in by truck from farms within a 40-mile radius. Finding the stuff in areas such as East Anglia is not a problem, says chairman Simon Fraser. 'There's a lot of it about.'

David Bruce, the man whose Firkin ales inflicted many a hangover when he was at the brewery, is at it again. Next Wednesday, his Belcher's Brewery is celebrating the opening of a new riverside Slug & Lettuce pub in Richmond, south-west London, with a new beer. The fearsome brew is clearly one for those with degrees in original gravity. It is called Cirrhosis of the River.

You can't keep a good man down. Just days after being ejected from the driver's seat of forklift truck business Lancer Boss, Sir Neville Bowman-Shaw is already scouting for new opportunities.

The tall, regimental knight informs me he is looking to inject capital and experience into a business or two. Preferably something in engineering, he says, before adding pointedly: 'Though I know a good deal more about banking than I used to.'

China must wonder what's hit it. Earlier this week Rolls-Royce announced it was to set up distribution operations there. Now Hollywood is coming to town. UCI, a division of Paramount/Universal, is to open China's first multiscreen cinema in Shanghai next year. It is the first of 16 gargantuan cinema sites the company plans to build over the next 18 months.

The move promises a fascinating culture clash. Multi-screen cinemas are usually shrines to American schlock culture with heavy emphasis on buckets of popcorn, vats of Coke and mustard-laden hot dogs.

UCI says the Shanghai menu has not yet been decided but that it 'will reflect local tastes'. Might this mean prawn crackers instead of popcorn and Chinese tea instead of Coke, one wonders?

Management declined to comment on whether the cinema's car park will have specially built bicycle sheds for the country's most popular form of private transport. For those without a Roller, that is.

London Transport Buses, a new outfit created to preside over the network, is all set for a bit of military discipline if its new board of directors is anything to go by. On the list of non-executives is Veronica Palmer, a former squadron leader in the RAF.

Ms Palmer was in the force for 16 years. She saw service in the Middle East during the Six Day War and was in Aden during the British withdrawal. Much to her frustration the RAF did not have women pilots then so Ms Palmer had to make do with jobs in administration and personnel. 'The only thing I flew was a desk,' she quips.

Executives at Paramount Communications fought long and hard for the right to merge with Viacom last winter. But it is becoming hard to figure out why. As soon as the cable television group gained control, it sacked president Stanley Jaffe, the head of the Paramount studios.

Now Mr Jaffe is suing Viacom, saying it prevented him cashing in on the takeover - barring him from tendering his 500,000 share options to the dollars 100-a-share cash portion of the deal. He claims it refused to fire him formally until after the tender deadline, obliging him to accept dollars 43 in Viacom shares, and thus he missed out on a pounds 20m profit.

(Photograph omitted)