Napoleon Bonaparte once mused that ‘from the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step,’ and it appears there is some truth to this comment with regard to a recent construction project on his old prison, St Helena.
Napoleon was exiled to the small volcanic island in the hopes that he would be too isolated to cause Europe any more trouble. St Helena is still very isolated with the only way on and off the island for its 4000 residents being a long ferry ride. However, recent attempts to bring the island’s modern day (voluntary) residents closer to the world has resulted in a costly blunder.
The UK government spent a massive £285 million (NZ$585 million) building an airport on their overseas territory that is useless to commercial airliners on account of severe wind shear. The result of this geographical quirk is that commercial flights to the island have been shut down.
The ill-fated project will serve as a reminder to anyone undertaking construction to ensure that the end result will be able to meet its intended use.