Saturday, 30 April 2016

Gardening sustainably for the future

The ideas around 'sustainability' are everywhere - including the garden:
Sustainable gardening - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Apparently everyone's doing it:
Sustainable Gardening: It's All The Rage! | Planet Natural

Do you want to garden 'more sustainably'? Here's a very handy publication:

Gardening sustainably for the future 

The UK is a nation of gardeners. In 2012 we spent £6.5 billion on the UK’s 22 million domestic gardens and allotments, and benefitted from £7.8 billion in garden tourism. 
Aside from the aesthetic importance of gardens, a growing body of evidence supports the idea that they provide much wider societal benefits. 
The modern private garden is highly heterogeneous throughout the UK, varying in size (3.6m2 to 2290m2 ), with grass the dominant green cover. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in growing fruit and vegetables and in sowing cornfield and meadow plant communities within gardens. 
But most gardens can be more sustainable...


There are lots of community projects around sustainable gardening principles:

Ancient German City Turns Public Spaces Into Gardens and Pastures - WSJ

See also:
Futures Forum: Gardening is good for your mental wellbeing
Futures Forum: The decline of the British front garden: "There's an environmental cost. Paving increases the risk of flash flooding - instead of grass and soil soaking up moisture, it runs straight off paving and overwhelms drainage systems."

Housing numbers projected for East Devon >>> >>> >>> "The total number of homes built during the 18 year Local Plan period could be as high as 23,000" - rather than the "17,000 minimum figure of housing need outlined by the new Local Plan."

It's difficult to know exactly what the projected numbers of houses are for East Devon:
Futures Forum: Housing numbers in East Devon ...... and the Local Plan
Futures Forum: Housing numbers in East Devon ... "The region, which is earmarked for 11,000 new homes..."
Futures Forum: Housing in East Devon: "I don’t see it as the floodgates opening, but I do see a stampede coming.”

The EDW blog has noticed a report from the District Council - and a pertinent comment follows:


29 APR 2016

As we expected, too many unaffordable, greenfield properties being built.

“83% of completions [in East Devon] on Greenfield sites (including fields and undeveloped greenspaces, barn conversions and garden sites)” …

… “A grand total of 18,391 net new dwellings are now projected to have been completed over the full plan period (2013-2031). This is above the 17,100 minimum figure of housing need outlined by the new Local Plan.” …

… “3.1 The final page of the HMU sets out the five year land supply calculation based on the 30 September 2015 monitor. It shows that East Devon can demonstrate 5.54 years supply of land for housing taking account of a 20% buffer as required by paragraph 47 of the NPPF for authorities that have persistently under-delivered in previous years.

3.2 Paragraph 47 of the NPPF sets out that in calculating the five year land supply authorities should apply a 5% buffer, or a 20% buffer where there has been a record of persistent under delivery. Application of the 20% buffer is a conservative approach to take. The Council could be more bullish and say that clearly it is now delivering above requirements and so the 5% buffer should apply in which case the Council could demonstrate a higher land supply figure, but it is recommended to apply the 20% figure for the time being.

3.3 This, along with the application of SHLAA methodology build-out rates and a robust but conservative assessment of future windfalls means that it is harder for an appellant to argue the five year supply figure down.

3.4 The calculation shows that over the five year period a surplus of 617 net new dwellings are projected to be built over the district as a whole. This is a healthy surplus that means that should certain sites not deliver or under-deliver there is an added buffer of supply. …”


One thought on “Local Plan: more than 1,000 extra homes already projected – 18,391 not 17,100”

Paul F says:
29 Apr 2016 at 10:34am

In reality is is going to be much worse than this.

If you look in the Local Plan document, there is a graph / table showing the completions expected per year – and this is very front-loaded with almost all development occurring in the first 10 years of the plan.

In my profession (project management) this is called “planners’ droop” and reflects that there is greater knowledge about what will happen in early years and less knowledge about later years.

But, if the rate of development were to continue in the latter years of the plan at the same rate as the early years of the plan (and there is no reason to believe it won’t) then the total number of homes built during the 18 year Local Plan period could be as high as 23,000.

To put this in perspective, in the 2011 census there were 61,000 homes in East Devon, so growth of 18,391 homes is over 30%, and 23,000 would be 38%.

This is MASSIVE growth – close your eyes and imagine all the existing towns and villages in East Devon, now lump them together and imagine the same area of green fields of Devon. Now imagine those green fields covered in buildings, roads etc. That is what is about to happen to East Devon.

Local Plan: more than 1,000 extra homes already projected – 18,391 not 17,100 | East Devon Watch

See also:
Futures Forum: Housing myths and housing numbers
Futures Forum: Allocating housing numbers in East Devon
Futures Forum: The District Council: housing numbers and neighbourhood plans: "It is important that we should encourage all our settlements to make themselves sustainable for the sake of generations to come."

East Devon CPRE: Housing numbers should be slashed - Claire Wright (Jan 2013)

Why Trees? >>> the Arboretum at Sidbury: Weds 11th May

This year's Arboretum tree day is taking place in Sidbury:



Wednesday 11 MAY: 12.30 – 5pm.


Hugh Angus
Forestry Commission - Westonbirt, The National Arboretum - news - Hugh Angus Head of Collections retires (England)
Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum - Blog

Louise Woolley (on bees/pollinators)
Louise Woolley Ecology and Wildlife
Futures Forum: Trees for Bees: a new project in the Sid Valley

George Pidgeon (on hedges)
Laying hedges: Keeping hedges lean and mean - Telegraph
BHHA Contacts

Ewan Anderson (Tree drawing)

See also:
Sidmouth Arboretum - News

Devolution and the drawbacks of 'back room' deals

Back in February, the Communities and Local Government Commons Select Committee report into devolution was 'struck by the lack of discussion and consultation with the public':

Devolution: the next five years and beyond 

Bids, negotiation and agreement of deals: key themes

50. As we have discussed..., devolution in England is generally proceeding by means of deals negotiated and agreed between local areas and the Government. This is a pragmatic way forward but there are risks in deal-making which, to be mitigated, require the use of proper processes—we are all familiar with the drawbacks of ‘back room’ deals. Openness, transparency, agreement of a timeframe and equal influence between the parties will help to ensure the process and the deal agreed are both beyond reproach. The evidence we received suggested that the current process could be improved in a number of ways.

Public engagement

51.We have been struck by the lack of discussion and consultation with the public in areas which have proposed, negotiated and agreed devolution deals. At the question and answer session we held with residents during our visit to Greater Manchester, the vast majority of contributions, often made in angry tones, arose from the perceived lack of efforts by the combined authority to engage the public about the deal relating to their local area.

House of Commons - Devolution: the next five years and beyond - Communities and Local Government Committee

This concern over lack of transparency is being voiced all over the country - with references aplenty to the Committee's report:

North East devolution deal consultation efforts branded 'inadequate'


The deal could see a North East elected mayor introduced as well as access to billions of pounds, but critics say residents were kept in the dark

“There was no deliberate attempt to keep people in the dark but it was just ineffective in engaging with the community as a whole.”

In February this year, a report by MPs concluded regional mayors and super-councils are being created without consulting the people they are going to govern. They said councils and Government Ministers had agreed deals to create directly-elected mayors without involving residents in the negotiations.

North East devolution deal consultation efforts branded 'inadequate' - Chronicle Live


Star date: 30th April 2016


Devo Manc‬ Dodgy Devolution Cuts and Privatisation Roadshow
Monday 2nd May 3pm
Eccles town centre

"Will you take urgent action to tackle GM councils' waiting list for housing with genuinely affordable homes...Or will you prioritise skyscrapers for international investors?"

To raise awareness of the role played by local council leaders in what it calls "the whole dodgy and completely undemocractic Devo Manc devolution deal", the Campaign for Democratic Devolution is bringing its Roadshow to Eccles town centre on Monday, pushing a number of pertinent questions residents can ask City Mayor candidates before they decide how to vote.

Full details here...

In February his year, the House of Commons Select Committee slated the complete lack of democracy surrounding Greater Manchester devolution deal, signed by leaders of all the ten GM councils, including Salford Mayor Ian Stewart.

"There has been a consistent very significant lack of public consultation, engagement and communication at all stages of the deal-making process" the Select Committee found (see previous Salford Star article – click here).

DODGY GM DEVOLUTION ELECTION ROADSHOW HITS SALFORD - Salford Star - with attitude & love xxx

But there are alternative ways of doing local government:

It’s time to loosen central control and let communities take charge

Steve Reed
Tuesday 26 April 2016 

Is the government’s “devolution revolution” stalling? The National Audit Office’s new report on English cities’ devolution deals, published last week, suggests it could be. The report makes clear what council leaders have been telling the government for months: many councils don’t know what powers are on offer to them, when they may get them, or how they will pay for them.

Transparency matters because you can’t devolve powers to communities if they don’t know anything about it. Involving communities will lead to better devolution deals because local people understand their own communities better than Whitehall does.

Polling by Ipsos Mori demonstrates a close link between awareness of devolution and positive attitudes towards it. Being open about devolution builds support, while doing deals in secret breeds opposition. That’s why the most successful transformations in public services are coming from local, not central, government. Plymouth council, for example, has set up more than 30 energy co-ops working with their community; Rochdale has recently mutualised its housing stock to give tenants a real stake in ownership, and Oldham council has improved care for older people and better conditions for care staff in its ethical care company.

Why devolution is Labour’s starting point | Steve Reed | Society | The Guardian
Guardian editorial slams devolution secrecy and lack of democracy | East Devon Watch

It's all about transparency - and accountability:

Mayoral elections: Opinion:

Someone to blame, someone to sack: why local government is a failed state

Simon Jenkins Wednesday 27 April 2016

Mayors can be the answer to local accountability, but George Osborne’s plans are inconsistent and unpopular

Despite his good intentions, Osborne’s bid to restore local accountability to English government has hit trouble. It is unresearched and unconsulted, advancing in fits and starts.

Local government makes most sense when rooted in locality, in coherent communities used to running their own affairs. The cities and county boroughs inherited from the 19th century were such bodies. They attracted good local people to serve their councils, as happens today in Germany, France and the US. Local turnouts in the first two are between 60 and 80%. In Britain it is nearer 35%, a sure sign of democratic failure. Osborne’s random scatter of mayoralties is unlikely to stir the juices of accountability.

Someone to blame, someone to sack: why local government is a failed state | Simon Jenkins | Opinion | The Guardian
Doubts cast over rural England elected mayor plans - BBC News

But still the pressure mounts:
‘£2bn at risk’ if devolution is not secured | Insider Media Ltd
Minister gives East Anglia ultimatum on devolution - LocalGov

See also:
Futures Forum: Devolution: "The money being passed out to the (unaccountable) local enterprise partnerships far exceeds the supplementary investment grants going to the consortia of councils."
Futures Forum: Devolution in East Devon is an 'opportunity'
Futures Forum: Devolution and Local Enterprise Partnerships: a summary
Futures Forum: Devolution, LEPs and the future of healthcare
Futures Forum: Devolution: a distinct lack of enthusiasm for a metro mayor
Futures Forum: Devolution and Local Enterprise Partnerships: "there are some very worrying questions being raised by all of this"
Futures Forum: Devolution, unitary authorities and the East Devon & Dorset National Park
Futures Forum: Local Enterprise Partnerships >>> "accountability and value for money" >>> Submission to National Audit Office by East Devon Alliance
Futures Forum: Devolution and the budget >>> “Would it not be easier to dissolve the people, and elect another?”
Futures Forum: Devolution, LEPs and today's budget
Futures Forum: "LEP devolution ‘deals’ around the country have been rushed through at such a speed that at the moment there is confusion and even contradicting messages even amongst LEP Board Members."
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> and EDF at Hinkley Point
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> "We will maintain our democratic independence."
Futures Forum: Devolution, LEPs and second thoughts >>> "We can’t recommend getting on a bus when we don’t know what the fare is and we don’t know where it’s going."
Futures Forum: "Devolution could improve the lives of local people, yet the current debate pays little attention to how this could be achieved."
Futures Forum: Devolution: "Powerhouse or power failure?"
Futures Forum: Devolution as "the TTIP for the Shires" >>> public meeting >>> Totnes: Thursday 25th February

Friday, 29 April 2016

"The 81%" > the popularity of renewable energy in the UK

The economics of energy seems to be shifting:
Futures Forum: Question: What is the most expensive object on Earth? Answer: At $26bn plus some rather 'opaque financing arrangements', it could well be Hinkley C
Futures Forum: "Energy economics are changing rapidly and so the momentum is towards decentralised, smart and flexible energy systems."

Meanwhile, communities are getting on with their own energy projects:
Futures Forum: Community energy >>> "We are changing the world" >>> the fracking village that's going solar

And such projects are proving very popular, as reported by the New Economics Foundation:
New Economics Foundation

You might not guess it from the tone and substance of recent government policy, but its own research has yet again shown just how popular renewable energy is in the UK – and conversely how little support exists for fracking.  

Every three months the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) asks the public about their views on different energy types and how they use energy in their daily lives. The latest has just been released (summary; full breakdown). Its headlines:
  • 81% of the public support renewable energy, with over a third “strongly” supporting it. 
  • Only 19% support fracking.
  • Only just over a third (35%) think that nuclear energy will help tackle climate change.
  • Over half (56%) say that they’d be happy to have a renewable energy development near them, and 77% say that they would like renewable energy sites to provide economic benefits to local communities. 
Public support for energy

Clearly something as complex as energy policy should not be solely governed by public sentiment. But the public mandate for clean energy versus fossil fuels is staggering.
Support for zero-carbon energy has been unfailingly high each of the 17 times the survey has been run; over three-quarters of people have backed it each quarter since 2012.  

Not just popular, but increasingly lucrative: Danish energy company Dong revealed this week that growing profits from its offshore wind business – including in UK waters – have more than made up for its tumbling returns from oil and gas.

All of which of course prompts the question of who it is the government listens to on energy policy – proudly delivering both myriad cuts to support for renewable energy and cutting tax for oil and gas as part of its drive to drill ‘every drop’, both in the North Sea and from fracking.

In particular it exposes the folly of its war on onshore wind farms; the Prime Minister’s claims that the public are “fed up” with the technology looks simply silly, given that the DECC survey found that 69% of people support the technology, and only 5% oppose. 

Don't miss these:

  • This photo-essay on the massive new turbine that’s revolutionising the economics of onshore wind – featuring British-made blades as big as the wing of an Airbus A380.
  • 2015 was another record year for renewable energy investment , say the United Nations –an impressive $286 billion worldwide, over twice as much as was spent on coal and gas.
Renewable investment

In other news…

The Paris Agreement is signed – so what next?
The signing of the Agreement by 171 governments last week prompted a full page advert in the FT,  signed by a huge range of organisations (including NEF), calling for oil companies to start planning for a low-carbon world. Experts did however warn that the pledges currently on the table from signatories need “radical” improvement to keep temperatures to a two degree rise or less.

Heard the one about the government paying Shell to drill our oil?
UK taxpayers paid Shell a net $123 million in 2015 to drill North Sea oil and gas, thanks to a large tax rebate. That makes the UK the only one of the 24 countries where Shell reported that it took money from, rather than gave money back to, the taxpayer.

MPs slam government failure on air pollution
A very cross cross-party group of MPs slammed ministers for not doing enough to stop at least 40,000 people a year dying early from air pollution. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra) called for a decent national action plan, a national diesel scrappage scheme and more powers to local authorities to bring in diesel charging schemes. Last year the Supreme Court also ordered the government to draw up an action plan to clean up the UK’s air: what they came up with, however, would still leave dozens of UK cities in breach of EU law for years to come. Damning evidence has also emerged of the systemic failure of car manufacturers to produce diesel vehicles that are as clean when driven in real life as they are in the laboratory.

And finally
Picking a fight with Emma Thompson is never wise – particularly if you’re the fracking industry and you’re trying to claim you’re a good thing for renewable energy.

Energy round-up: who do you trust? | New Economics Foundation
About NEF: Projects | New Economics Foundation

Community energy >>> "We are changing the world" >>> the fracking village that's going solar

The village of Balcombe has created quite a stir:
Futures Forum: Balcombe: making a community self-sufficient in electricity
Futures Forum: Balcombe: community-owned solar park given go-ahead

The project has faced set-backs:
Futures Forum: Balcombe: community-owned solar park brought to an end by government cuts: "either they haven't got a clue about business, or they are trying to destroy the community energy sector."

And yet the village seems determined to get on with its community energy projects:

'We are changing the world' - the fracking village that's going solar - YouTube
"We are changing the world" - the fracking village that's going solar | 10:10
10:10 - 'We are. Changing. The World' the fracking village... | Facebook

Be Well, Be Healthy, Be Fit >>> Stowford health festival >>> "a great success"

Last weekend saw the first 'health festival' put on in Sidmouth:
Futures Forum: Be Well, Be Healthy, Be Fit >>> Stowford health festival >>> Saturday 23rd April

It was very successful on every count:

Fun, food and fitness at Sid Valley’s first healthy living festival

09:26 29 April 2016
The first ever Sid Valley Be Well, Be Healthy, Be Fit Festival

The first ever Sid Valley Be Well, Be Healthy, Be Fit Festival
Inaugural community event labelled a ‘great success’
Aaron Clarke and Di Fuller with Stuart Hughes at the first ever healthy living festival. Ref shs 16-17TI 9448. Picture: Terry Ife
Aaron Clarke and Di Fuller with Stuart Hughes at the first ever healthy living festival. Ref shs 16-17TI 9448. Picture: Terry Ife
The Sid Valley’s inaugural healthy living festival proved a hit with visitors, who enjoyed a free taste of good food, fun and fitness.
Organisers were happy with the ‘great success’ of the event at Stowford Community Centre on Saturday and are already gearing up for next year, with hints that it could expand into the town centre.
Around 200 people flocked to enjoy a piece of the action at the first ever Be Well, Be Healthy, Be Fit Festival, that aimed to get the whole community involved and encourage opportunities to live a healthier lifestyle.
Chairman of the Sid Valley Patient Participation Group, Di Fuller, spearheaded the project from its inception and - beginning with no budget whatsoever - mobilised the support of groups and organisations, who got behind the day.
East Devon District Council supported the festival and Waitrose supplied an array of healthy snacks.
Di said: “It was a lively, yet relaxing event. There were more than 30 contributing organisations that made this a real community event. We were very happy with how the day went, although several people made the comment that we needed more publicity and others that it should have been in town. Who knows, maybe next year.”
Visitors had ample opportunity to seek information on matters ranging from health check-ups, to sports clubs, while others stepped up for a ride on the smoothie-making bicycle and found out how to make their own hummus.
A range of exercise taster sessions took place throughout the day and festival-goers could opt for a relaxing massage, or get their blood pressure checked.
Visitors dubbed the event ‘friendly, informative and professional’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘fun’, with one person commenting how lucky Sidmouth residents are to have something like this.

Fun, food and fitness at Sid Valley’s first healthy living festival - News - Sidmouth Herald

Question: What is the most expensive object on Earth? Answer: At $26bn plus some rather 'opaque financing arrangements', it could well be Hinkley C

Apparently, investors don't really like nuclear:
Futures Forum: Energiewende: energy transition 30 years after Chernobyl

They didn't like it back in the 1970s:

And they don't like it today:
Shares in EDF have plunged more than 10% as investors baulk | Western Daily Press

Meanwhile, nuclear seems to be on the wane: "For the first time in 45 years, Japan was without nuclear electricity (and no lights went out) and, indeed, without any operating industrial nuclear facility or even research reactor; AREVA, the self-proclaimed “global leader in nuclear energy”, went technically bankrupt; China, the global leader in new-build, launched a construction site after a 15-month break; in the U.K., concerning the French sponsored new-build project, there are “growing suspicions” that the Treasury “would not be disappointed if Hinkley [Point C] never happened”; the French draft Energy Bill passed the second reading at the French National Assembly stipulating the reduction of the nuclear share from three quarters to about half by 2025; and so on."
WNISR 2015 - World Nuclear Industry Status Report

On the other hand, "Local power plants can deliver several benefits – operational flexibility, lower system losses and a measure of energy security among them. Those based on renewable fuels or with particularly high efficiencies also offer important carbon advantages. They are also rather easier to finance than a new wave of fossil-fuelled, or nuclear, power plants."
Not the most expensive object on the planet - Decentralized Energy

Is Hinkley 'the most expensive object on Earth'?
New petition: Stop Hinkley nuclear plant and spend the money on renewable instead | Greenpeace UK

The BBC has looked into the claims:

What is the most expensive object on Earth?

  • 29 April 2016
  • From the sectionMagazine
Nuclear DomeImage copyrightiStock

"Hinkley is set to be the most expensive object on Earth… best guesses say Hinkley could pass £24bn ($35bn)," said the environmental charity Greenpeace last month as it launched a petition against the project.
True or false? A new nuclear power station in the south-west of the UK will be the most expensive object on Earth. That's the claim about the proposed plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset - but has anything else ever cost so much to build?
This figure includes an estimate for paying interest on borrowed money, but the financing arrangements for Hinkley C are so opaque that it is impossible to calculate exactly what the final cost will be.
Even if you stick with the expense of construction alone, though, the price is still high - the main contractor, EDF, puts it at £18bn ($26bn).
Burj KhalifaImage copyrightiStock
For that sum you could build a small forest of Burj Khalifas - the world's tallest building, in Dubai, cost a piffling £1bn ($1.5bn). You could also knock up more than 70 miles of particle accelerator. The 17-mile-long Large Hadron Collider, built under the border between France and Switzerland to unlock the secrets of the universe, cost a mere £4bn ($5.8bn).
The most expensive bridge ever constructed is the eastern replacement span of the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco, designed to withstand the strongest earthquake seismologists would expect within the next 1,500 years. That cost about £4.5bn ($6.5bn).
The eastern replacement span of the Oakland Bay BridgeImage copyrightAlamy
So why is Hinkley C so expensive?
"Nuclear power plants are the most complicated piece of equipment we make," says Steve Thomas, emeritus professor of energy policy at Greenwich University.
"Cost of nuclear power plants has tended to go up throughout history as accidents happen and we design measures to deal with the risk."
In comparison, the UK's newest nuclear power station, Sizewell B, which was completed in 1995, only cost £2.3bn ($3.4bn), or £4.1bn ($6bn) at today's prices.
No nuclear power plants have been completed in Europe this century - those that have been built in recent years are in countries such as China or India, and Thomas believes figures for these, where they exist, are not reliable.
So what about historic buildings - could the Great Pyramid of Giza put Hinkley C in the shade?
Pyramids GizaImage copyrightiStock
Working out the cost of something built more than 4,500 years ago presents numerous challenges, but in 2012 the Turner Construction Company estimated it could build the pyramid for between £750m ($1.1bn) and £900m ($1.3bn).
That includes about £500m ($730m) for stone and £40m ($58m) for 12 cranes. However, it projected that a mere 600 staff would be necessary - it took 20,000 people to build the original pyramid at a time when the only cranes in sight were the winged, feathery type.
And the cost to Pharaoh Khufu? For two decades, workers are believed to have laboured on the pyramid for four months a year, during the annual Nile flood when the fields they normally tended were submerged. That amounts to 48.4 million days of labour. A further 4,000 people are thought to have worked year-round, giving a total figure of 77.6 million days' labour. Using the current Egyptian minimum wage of £3.93 ($5.73) a day, that gives a labour cost of £305m ($445m).
Using modern labour rates is not as strange as it might seem. A contemporaneous inscription reveals labourers received 10 loaves of bread and a jug of beer per day. Archaeological evidence suggests the pyramid builders also received meat and fish, and in modern Egypt 10 loaves, a can of Coca-Cola and a portion of beef or fish costs about £4 ($5.80).

Find out more

  • More or Less is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service

And the Pharaoh didn't have to pay for raw materials.
"The king owned all the stone in the quarries," says Joyce Tyldesley, lecturer in Egyptology at Manchester University. "He couldn't sell this - nobody would have a use for it. His palaces and temples were made of mud brick and so were peoples' houses. Nobody would have the resources to buy it. It's a free resource."
She thinks the labour was effectively free too. Workers were paid with food that the pharaoh had gathered in as taxation.
"If he doesn't spend it on his workforce it won't last, he'll have to redistribute it another way," she says. "I would argue the entire pyramid-building experience was free."
In any case, a £500m stone bill plus £305m in wages are nowhere near Hinkley C.
Great wall of ChinaImage copyrightiStock
The Great Wall of China was an even bigger project than the pyramid. At 5,500 miles long, its mass is almost certainly greater. But it is actually a large number of walls, pieced together over two millennia, stretching the definition of "object".
Back in the modern era, neither Heathrow Terminal 2 (£2.3bn; $3.4bn) nor the new London railway Crossrail (£14.8bn; $21.6bn) can compete with Hinkley.
One current project, at first glance, does appear to be in the same ballpark as the power station. The royal family of Saudi Arabia is refurbishing the Grand Mosque in Mecca at a reported cost of about £16bn ($23bn). But this includes a new road and train line, among other things, so, once again, it stretches the definition of "object"
Grand mosqueImage copyrightGetty Images
Another contender is Hong Kong International Airport, built in 1998 on an artificial island at a cost of £13.7bn ($20bn) - equivalent to £20.1bn ($29bn) at today's prices. That just pips EDF's estimate for the cost of Hinkley C (though remember, we are putting to one side the cost of financing the deal).
But these are all exceeded by the $54bn (£37bn) Gorgon liquefied natural gas plant built by Chevron in Australia. Built on Barrow Island off the country's north-west coast to process a huge off-shore gas field, it began production in March.
Even that will probably be overtaken one day, though. "We're just building two reactors at Hinkley. Turkey has a deal for four reactors, South Africa is about to launch a tender for six reactors," says Steve Thomas. "When you get round to a six-reactor order it's going to cost three times as much as Hinkley."
And whatever the most expensive object on Earth is, up in the sky is something that eclipses all of these things.
The International Space Station. Price tag: 100bn euros (£77.6bn, or $110bn).
International Space StationImage copyrightAlamy
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More from the Magazine

Hinkley BImage copyrightGetty Images
The UK's Hinkley Point nuclear power station has major backing from China. But why does the government need their help, asks Camila Ruz.

What is the most expensive object on Earth? - BBC News