Arch is airport's latest arrival

A GIANT bronze arch, based on the city's Inspiring Capital logo, is set to be constructed to welcome visitors to the city at Edinburgh Airport.

The "welcome feature" is to be created on a roundabout next to the Hilton Hotel, at the north-end of Eastfield Road, and would be one of the first sights for visitors leaving the airport.

The design features two small arches over welcome signs, with a large solid bronze arch crossing the roundabout, and a secondary railed arch above that.

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The whole structure rises to six metres at its highest point, and is designed to be a dramatic, eye-catching welcome to the city.

It has been based on the "three arches" of the city's Inspiring Capital logo, which has been used as the global "brand" of Edinburgh since 2005.

The cost of developing the new welcome feature is estimated to be around 250,000.

The airport is also planning to carry out much-needed improvement work to the run-down roundabout. The development is being put forward as part of the ongoing 40 million refurbishment of Edinburgh Airport, which owners BAA hope will allow the terminal to handle 13 million travellers a year by 2013.

Managing director Gordon Dewar said: "We want to ensure visitors feel warmly welcomed when they arrive at the airport, and work is currently under way on a major redevelopment of our terminal.

"As part of our ongoing efforts to improve facilities, we have submitted a planning application for a new welcome sign which we think would provide a fitting greeting for those arriving at Scotland's capital airport."

The airport operator has previously had two alternative features for the roundabout knocked back by the council's planning department.

In 2004 it was told an initial design, which included a solid five-metre high "elliptical wall" was unsuitable as it could block the views of the road and prove a distraction to drivers.

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Then in 2006 a modified design featuring three simple steel arches to recreate the Inspiring Capital logo was also refused planning permission after complaints that a 35 square metre advertising board underneath the main arch was more prominent than the logo.

The new design also features spaces for a "sponsor" to advertise, although the areas are considerably smaller than large signs on either side of the roundabout reading "Welcome to Edinburgh" and "Welcome to Edinburgh Airport".

It was not specified who the sponsor of the latest design was, but the advertising space would be used to help recuperate the cost of the project.

A spokeswoman for BAA insisted that it had been given no reason to believe the latest design would interfere with traffic on the road.

Kenneth Wardrop, chief executive of the Destination Edinburgh Marketing Alliance, which oversees the Inspiring Capital brand, said: "With almost ten million air passengers arriving at Edinburgh Airport each year, it's a vital gateway into the Capital and we support the airport's initiative to welcome visitors to the city."