Canal works contract award for Helix visitor attraction

Computer-generated image of the horse head sculptures (courtesy of the Helix Trust) The centrepiece of the new canal link will be two huge horse head sculptures

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The construction of an international visitor attraction in central Scotland has entered a new phase with the award of a £13.5m contract for canal works.

Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering will undertake canal construction and design works for the £43m Helix project between Falkirk and Grangemouth.

The works include a new canal extension from the Forth and Clyde Canal down to a new sea lock on the River Carron.

The Helix project is expected to be completed in 2013.

The development will see a 300-hectare site of under-used land transformed into a major new parkland with visitor attractions.

Plans include two 30m (98ft) horse head "kelpie" sculptures and a waterway linking Grangemouth into the Scottish canal network.

Other planned developments include pathways and cycle networks and a range of community facilities.

Following its competitive tender win, Balfour Beatty will be responsible for a range of works, including a new under-bridge to the M9 feeding the canal below the major trunk road and a new lock where the "kelpies" will stand.

The Big Lottery Fund is contributing £25m to the overall project, which is being driven by a partnership of Falkirk Council, British Waterways Scotland and Central Scotland Forest Trust through the Helix Trust.

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