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Government Big Projects..... and how they can go wrong

Theresa May appeared to have cancelled the Chinese reactor project and now it has been re-instated. Problems solved or penalty clauses too steep?

Those of us who remember our history will recall that Napoleon, having escaped from Elba and caused further aggravation, was finally dispatched to St Helena, a remote island in the Atlantic.

It now has a new airport designed to make access considerably easier. I just met a couple on holiday from their who tipped me off to the wind sheer problems at the airport.

What the article doesn't say is that the 5 months of weather data now collected should have been 6 months of data from before they finalised on the location and design. Choosing the top of a cliff doesn't seem to have been too good an idea and while it might be that wind shear can be dangerous, other such islands, including Ascension, the intermediate stop on the way there, doesn't seem to be "unsafe".

Instead we were told that there was a single C130 flight one a calm day and then they built the airport. Now they find that only smaller aircraft can use it and not the bigger aircraft intended.
Wind shear can cause a few passenger nerves to flutter even at airports where the problem is within manageable limits. I recall flying into Boston and being concerned that we seemed to be flying sideways to the runway due to the high cross winds..... and as soon as the wheels touched own the aircraft was whipped around to line up with the runway. Now that was simply due to the wind direction through the entire approach. Wind shear is a variation in horizontal or vertical over a short distance.... more worrying still.

This quote from another article tells us something of the situation:

"The international development secretary, Priti Patel, has responded to the criticism by saying she will establish a panel of experts to look into how the airport can be made to work.

“Clearly some decisions were not up to scratch, but this is not a postmortem. It is about finding a solution,” a government source said."

Clearly some decisions were not up to scratch. Yes, a solution is needed but a postmortem is necessary to make sure wrong decisions are not again made. A new Chinese reactor is a pretty significant project upon which such similar "not up to scratch" decisions could be far more catastrophic and expensive.
While Priti Patel does need to find a solution, a postmortem is also essential, not a cover up.

This article ( seems to confirm that test were made after they had built it and not before.

Quite what solution they can come up with for St Helena I don't know. Start again probably. But if my local informants are right, here is one of those projects where it has all gone (probably avoidably) wrong and someone will be stuck with the bill. Oh wait, that's us.