Page last updated at 13:38 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 14:38 UK

Huge kelpie canal plan 'improved'

Artists impression Helix project
The giant equine sculptures, measuring about 100 feet, will face towards the south east

Designers behind a project to create a giant horse head boat lift and extend the Forth and Clyde Canal have revealed changes to their original plans.

A new culvert will be built to take the canal under the M9 motorway and into a specially-constructed turning pool where the lift will be positioned.

The change will see the 100-foot sculptures, known as kelpies, face towards the south east.

Work on the development, known as the Helix project, will begin next year.

The equine sculptures, based on the mythical Scottish legend of water-based spirits or kelpies, have been designed by Andy Scott.

They will be positioned near canal Lock 2 to link directly into the existing Carron mooring basin where one of the kelpies will move to displace the water required to operate the canal lock.

'Originally envisaged'

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

The scheme, co-ordinated in partnership with Falkirk Council, British Waterways and the Central Scotland Forest Trust, aims to transform 300 hectares of unused land between Falkirk and Grangemouth.

Helix Trust chief executive, Colin Armstrong, said the design changes were a marked improvement on the original plans.

He said: "These are exciting times for everyone involved in The Helix.

"The vital months spent refining our canal options have delivered an even better outcome than originally envisaged.

"We will now be moving full steam ahead to obtain the necessary planning permissions.

"We look forward to engaging with the local community over the coming months as we build towards initial works in the first half of 2010."

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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