For a region with a strong history of energy production, it is really exciting that the North East is carving out its place as a clean energy technology hub for the UK. It is great that companies are investing in building new energy production sites and providing some of the new power capacity needed to decarbonise our energy supply and industries.
It looks as if 2015 could turn out to be Europe's Year of the Insurgents... More than at any time since the end of the Cold War, Europe needs clear, determined leaders who can calm voters' anger and offer reassurance that better times are coming, especially for those who have been hardest hit by the age of austerity. Anger, fear and intolerance of minorities are a highly dangerous mix - we have seen before where they can lead when populist politicians fan the flames. The coming year will be a test that Europe must not fail.
Think of a 'foreign fighter'. Are they a young male, aged between 19-29, probably of Middle Eastern origin, and possibly a Muslim? Are they associated with the concern and debate over Syria and Iraq? To most people it's more than likely that this is the image that comes to mind. This isn't necessary wrong, but it's definitely not completely accurate.
I hear you marched in your thousands against my religion. Last week, and last month. You marched against immigrants, foreigners, and anyone a shade darker. I will not draw comparisons to Nazi Germany. I will not call you bigots, I will not insult you, and I will not label you. But we do have a problem.
So that's what 2015 holds in store. It won't all be bad, far from it, but there will be a lot of uncertainty , nervousness and hesitation. And a choice in May which might be characterised as being between a party that risks being bad for the economy in the short-term and one that runs that risk for the long-term. Not much of a choice, really. Happy New Year!
The economic dangers associated with the introduction of the Euro were predictable - and indeed predicted by many. Yet political leaders at the time chose to make a grand and hubristic political statement irrespective of the devastation it could bring to their citizens. The Euro is, maybe, the best example of the consequences of a political and policy elite living in their own world and totally divorced from the consequences of their actions on ordinary people.
I hold no candle for UKIP, a party whose policies on the EU and on immigration seem to me to be mistaken and which, if it is to make an impact in May, will need to attract some very odd people; but neither are they all racists and, by removing the taboo on the discussion of immigration, they have done their country a great service.
Recent debates around the whole "local driver" issue involving a local taxi firm are illustrated beautifully by two buildings on Hull's Holderness Road. They are connected by real proximity, but separated by the passage of 70 years. Yards from 35 taxi's bustling taxi office stands the Boyes store, built on the site of what was the Savoy Cinema.
My first impression on arriving in Minsk was astonishment. I have been to many countries in Eastern Europe and several that were behind the old Soviet Iron Curtain, so I had a preconception of what I might see, but the first thing I noticed was that the road from the airport into the city was so smooth and new, it would be a skateboarders dream surface.
While the negotiations around issues such as immigration are very important, they are not the whole story. Of perhaps equal significance are the developments within the EU itself. These changes may, in the end, have an even larger bearing on the outcome of any 'in-out' referendum, if and when the time comes.