River art project in Cardigan scrapped after opposition
An artist's impression of how the floating, illuminated artwork might have looked in the river
A controversial river art project has been scrapped after strong opposition.
The avant-garde piece of work called Turbulence was part of Channel 4's Big Art Project, but it created waves among people living in Cardigan.
More than 4,400 people signed a petition objecting to the 127 buoys containing lights and speakers, and 51% voted against it in a phone poll.
A spokesman for the project said people behind it were "extremely sad" it had ended in this way.
Meanwhile, town mayor Mark Cole said Cardigan had probably lost £200,000 of regeneration investment as a result of the decision.
Cardigan was one of seven areas in the UK chosen to host artwork as part of Channel 4's Big Art Project, which aims to involve people in major public works of art.
One of the project originators Jim Evans blames a lack of vision and feels very emotional
Plans for Turbulence were given the go-ahead at a Ceredigion council meeting in April last year, and Bafta award-winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer was commissioned to produce the river sculpture.
But many people opposed the project. Some claimed wildlife habitats would be damaged, while others said it was a waste of money.
In November 2008, Cardigan's former mayor Melfydd George claimed it was a "silly idea".
In a statement, the Big Art Project said: "In Cardigan, opinion about the proposed artwork Turbulence has been sharply divided, and the proposal has evoked strong feelings."
It said research was carried out to assess the extent of concerns and opinions with 51% are opposed to the project (37% strongly opposed), with 31% in favour, 15% neither support nor oppose the project.
"Even though the project would have brought with it the regeneration of the Strand (an area of Cardigan), as well as potential benefits for local traders through increased visitor numbers, the poll showed that these benefits are not likely to shift enough views in order to produce a positive result in favour of the project," the statement continued.
"The clear strength of opinion against this work in Cardigan has led the partners in the project to reluctantly conclude that it would not be within the spirit of the Big Art Project to continue with the proposed creation of Turbulence for Cardigan.
"Consequently, any additional benefits will now also sadly be lost. This has been a long journey and we are extremely sad that it has come to this conclusion."
Cardigan mayor Mark Cole said the decision to scrap the scheme was not a surprise.
He added: "What saddens me about this decision is the loss of inward investment that will likely be a knock-on result from it.
"With Cardigan in the middle of a downturn as is the rest of the country, the prospect of losing £200,000 of regeneration money for the Strand from the Welsh assembly is one that we may well look back at in the future with great regret."
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