BRITAIN’S UFO capital, Bonnybridge, has been selected for an £850 million project to build the country’s first theme park based around the extra-terrestrial interlopers.
Planning permission for the centre, reputedly the size of disDisneyland Paris, is expected be granted within six months.
The themepark will be located on a 150-acre site close to the Falkirk Wheel - Scotland’s third most popular leisure facility, which attracts more than a quarter of a million visitors each year.
The Dutch firm behind the plans, Global Restaround Enterprises, is also seeking planning permission for a visitor centre at a separate location nearby.
The company claims the project could create as many as 12,000 jobs in the area.
Gerit Wals, of the company, said yesterday: "Bonnybridge has an international reputation as a UFO site.
"We will be using that theme in our park to tell the story of Scotland’s culture, its past, its present and its future.
"It is a very exciting time for us. We believe that there is a great need for a major attraction like this in Scotland and beyond. There is nothing else like it in the world."
Mr Wals, 59, whose interests in Scotland include the Melldalloch Lodges company at Tighnabruaich, in Argyll, added: "We have bought a 150- acre site with an option on a further 100 acres. We will be undertaking a feasibility study shortly. Our plans are for a park on the size of Disneyland Paris."
Mr Wals said the theme park would be based around 20 UFO shaped buildings, with visitors carried on shuttle-craft between them.
Attractions at this stage would include bionic Olympic games, animatronic figures and even a golf course, with more plans to be unveiled later.
"By siting it close to the Falkirk Wheel we hope to be able to reinforce the reputation of the area as a tourist destination."
The site chosen for the theme park is a former brickworks and explosives factory to the east of Bonnybridge.
Mr Wals visited the location last week.
He also began discussions with a local IT consultancy firm to discuss the possibility of producing a CD presentation of the project as a marketing tool to attract visitors.
He added: "It’s location in the Central Belt between Glasgow and Edinburgh is crucial.
"It will be a tremendous job creator for the area, employing up to 12,000 people. We are very optimistic about its success."
The company has already lodged a planning application with Falkirk Council for a smaller UFO centre at a nearby site.
A Bonnybridge councillor, Billy Buchanan, who is also a director of Restaround and in the past has campaigned for a UFO theme park in the area, said the project could create thousands of jobs.
He said: "It is very exciting. "We have been having a lot of confidential discussions about this and now we can talk more freely since the land deal has been signed.
"We are talking about thousands of jobs for the area and an investment of several hundred millions."
Mr Buchanan, who is vice-convener of Falkirk Council planning committee, added: "People have seen Bonnybridge and UFOs as a joke, now we have something to smile about."