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Monaco drops bid to expand land

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The economic climate has been blamed for the change of plan

Monaco has shelved a multi-billion-dollar plan to extend the tiny Mediterranean principality into the sea, its ruler Prince Albert II said.

The prince said the project was being abandoned due to the global economic crisis and environmental concerns.

The huge artificial peninsula would have been the size of 20 football pitches, packed with housing, shops and tourist facilities.

It had drawn comparisons with the artificial islands off Dubai.

"In the current climate, it would be irresponsible to launch a project of this scale," the prince told the French news agency AFP in an interview, saying the project had fallen short of its funding goals.

Prince Albert also told AFP the current designs had fallen short of his hopes in terms of environmental safeguards.

The development would have increased Monaco's territory by 5% and was expected to cost between $5-10bn (Ł3-6bn).

Prince Albert II at the Palais Princier in Monaco, 7/12/2008
Prince Albert's principality would have increased in area by 5%
The densely populated Mediterranean city state - made rich by tourism and banking - has little room for new building on its narrow strip of land trapped between a steep hillside and the stunning French Riviera.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster and his US rival Daniel Liebeskind were due to find out in February who was to build the luxury project. Work was slated to begin in 2011.

But Prince Albert insisted the decision to halt the landmark project does not imply that Monaco's economy is in trouble.

He noted that other projects in the principality will continue, including a new hospital, two housing projects, and a yacht club.

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