Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Ambitious Helix project approved

The 1:100 scale Kelpie models undergo wind tunnel testing as part of the structural and mechanical engineering design process
The 1:100 scale Kelpie models undergo wind tunnel testing

An ambitious plan that involves creating two giant equine sculptures and a vast parkland on disused ground next to Falkirk has been approved.

Details of the development, known as the Helix project, were given the green light by the Big Lottery Fund who have granted 25m for the plan.

Work to transform the 300-hectare site between Grangemouth and Falkirk is expected to begin later this year.

Once built, the horse sculpture will act as a huge boat lift.

Designed by Andy Scott, the structure will be created on a new section of canal that will link the Forth and Clyde Canal into the Forth Estuary.

Wind testing on scaled models of the 100-ft horse heads, based on the mythical Scots legend of water-based spirits or kelpies, has also been taking place in Teddington.

'Construction phase'

The results will be used to determine what materials and methods will be used to fix and support the structure.

The completed project will also see 750,000 new trees planted on the site and 34kms of paths and cycle tracks created.

Falkirk Council, who are coordinating the project along with British Waterways and the Central Scotland Forest Trust, have also approved the creation of a Helix Trust to oversee phase one of the development.

The local authority leader Linda Gow said: "The announcement that The Big Lottery Fund has given its backing to the initial design and construction phase indicates their confidence that we can deliver this ambitious and innovative project and is to be warmly welcomed.

"We can now see the project move ahead with the formation of the Helix Trust and, in time, look forward to a complete transformation of the area."

The Helix project is part of the My Future's in Falkirk scheme which aims to create up to 4,250 new jobs and generate 50m a year for the local economy by 2012.

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