This was supposed to be the site of Dongtan, the world’s first eco-city, a paradise of sustainable living that would house half-a-million people and set an example to the world.
So impressive were the groundbreaking plans, drawn up in conjunction with the British engineering firm Arup, that Tony Blair himself helped launched the project in 2005 with Hu Jintao, the Chinese president – and earlier this year Gordon Brown pledged that it would be the model for similar towns in Britain.
“Britain and China will lead the world in the creation of eco-cities,” the prime minister boasted.
However an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has revealed that Dongtan is still nothing but a pipe dream. The greenfield site, a lush area three quarters the size of Manhattan, remains untouched – and planning permission won by the Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC), the property developer which commissioned Arup to design and build the city, has now lapsed.