Helix project moves on

Groundwork has begun
Groundwork has begun

Work has started on the ambitious plan to create a massive tourist-friendly oasis on the outskirts of Falkirk.

Members of Falkirk Council last week, heard about the progress of transferring responsibility for managing the project from the Helix Trust to Falkirk Community Trust.

Councillor Craig R Martin said: “This process has been intensive, so I thank everyone involved, from the council, the Helix Trust and British Waterways who have helped.

“Now I hope we can all work together to ensure the capital works are completed - they are on time and on budget at the moment. The project is getting to an exciting stage and it’s great to see.”

Councillor Linda Gow welcomed the transfer of management responsibility.

She said: “This is the common sense approach. I have every confidence the Community Trust will be able to take the project forward.”

The Helix Project, a partnership involving the Helix Trust, Falkirk Council and British Waterways Scotland, is transforming a 300-hectare area of neglected land between Falkirk and Grangemouth, creating a new link between the Forth and Clyde Canal, River Carron and the Firth of Forth.

It is hoped the Helix will encourage walking, running, cycling and sailing - as well as attracting international visitors to boost the local economy.

The capital works, scheduled to end in Autumn next year, will initially focus on site set-up and earthworks. The new access road at Etna Road, including the first of the car parks, is due to be completed in August and the project team is looking to open the road to allow the public to view the construction progress of Central Park, the Canal Hub and the Kelpie structures.

The only potential bad news in the report concerned funding. With the current projected spend of the capital project standing at £40.7 million, the council has agreed to come up with a guaranteed £3 million to put towards the Helix, to enable the project to get up and running.

To date, however, the council has only received £900,000 of external funding, meaning it has to find an additional £2 million.

Councillor Tom Coleman asked: “How are we going to find that money - who are we chasing for funding?”

Rhona Geisler, director of development services, said: “Ineos haS provided additional funds and we are seeking money from other organisations. We are in discussions with the Big Lottery.”