Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Edinburgh set for own London Eye

Artist impression of the wheel on Edinburgh's Waterfront
"Scotland's National Wheel" would stand at 120 metres

Edinburgh could get its own version of the London Eye in a bid to lure thousands more tourists to the capital.

Plans for an attraction dubbed "Scotland's National Wheel" show it would tower 120 metres over the city - twice as high as the Scott Monument.

But designers, who are in talks with Edinburgh City Council, said the city centre was not big enough for the giant Ferris wheel.

They said they planned to erect it at the Leith Waterfront.

The area was chosen to tie in with a new transport station.

City leaders said the wheel, designed and funded by Great City Attractions (GCA), could become one of Scotland's most popular tourist attractions.

Tom Buchanan, Edinburgh City Council's economic development leader, believes visitor numbers to the wheel could match the 650,000 annual gate of Edinburgh Zoo.

He said: "This is a hugely important opportunity for Edinburgh.

"People make journeys to London just to go on the London Eye and we would look for people to do that in Edinburgh.

"It would help to bring forward a regeneration opportunity for that part of the city and would be a major tourist attraction attracting thousands of people.

"We would hope that it could attract similar numbers to those who go to Edinburgh Zoo."

Futuristic wheel

Birmingham-based giant wheel specialists GCA are currently building a 208 metre-high wheel in Beijing that will become the biggest in the world.

It also operates wheels in Orlando, Singapore and Berlin.

Head of global site development Nigel Ward confirmed Edinburgh was next on their horizons.

And despite the city centre being out of bounds due to planning restrictions, he insisted a futuristic wheel "will become a destination in its own right."

He said: "We are happy to confirm we have been speaking to Edinburgh City Council about the potential for a project of this nature in Edinburgh and the waterfront is an area we have been considering.

"It is a simple statement of fact that there is not space in Edinburgh's city centre for a wheel of this size.

"This is a completely different concept to the traditional Ferris wheel operated in the city centre at Christmas and is far more in keeping with the London Eye as something that will become a destination in its own right."

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