WORK on a striking £5 million landmark earmarked for the Scotland-England border is hoped to start next year after it won planning permission.
The giant thistle-style sculpture, dubbed the “Star of Caledonia”, will be some 180 ft tall and 131 ft wide.
To be fitted with equipment which will allow the structure to glow in the dark. it will be built on top of a vast landform sculpture beside the famous village of Gretna, on the banks of the River Sark.
Designed by renowned architects Cecil Balmond and Charles Jencks, the project has already been some 10 years in development.
The design is said to have been inspired by the celebrated scientist and physician James Clerk Maxwell, one of the Dumfriesshire’s most famous sons, who was renowned for his work in electro-magnetic energy.
However only £1 million is in place to pay for the project after a grant was pledged last year by national arts body Creative Scotland.
Approaches will now be made to the Scottish Government and Dumfries and Galloway Council to get the project off the ground, in the hope of work starting early next year. The local authority approved the project yesterday after it failed to attract any objections.
The project was instigated by local businesses and landowner Alasdair Houston to help trigger regeneration efforts in the area.
Mr Houston said: “As an opportunity for a country to herald its border, this is remarkable.
“The Star of Caledonia is a timeless work, which for 365 days a year will be a bold and confident statement of Scotland’s innovation and energy.”
Jan Hogarth, project director of the Gretna Landmark Trust, which is masterminding the project, said: “It’s a major achievement to get to this stage and now we can concentrate of raising the rest of the funding.
“We think it’ll take around 12 months to build, but if we can get the funding in place we’re hoping to start work early in 2014.”