Financial problems and ethical compromises have dogged this project which will only open in scaled down form next year. Although the project is intended to promote sustainable development, the backers have been forced to compromise on original plans to use sustainable materials (NCE 3 September). Time pressure made it impossible to bring in a materials vetting programme, so steel and concrete have been used for the sake of speed rather than sustainability.
Funding problems have also forced the Earth Centre Trust to split the project into three phases along with the 50M Millennium Commission grant. Phase one has match funding and is due for completion next year. The second phase will complete later in the year, assuming match funding can be found. The third phase, including the 30M timber framed centrepiece butterfly- shaped structure is due for completion in 2001 although this too depends on the Trust's ability to find match funds.