Fury over massive Olympic sign plans for Edinburgh Castle

EDINBURGH Castle will become a giant advert for London 2012 – if a bid to mount the Olympic logo on its ramparts gets the go-ahead.

Games organisers have lodged plans to attach the Olympic insignia to the north face of the Castle as part of a vision to promote the event as “inclusive and UK-wide”.

But the proposals have come under fire from city politicians who questioned the wisdom of promoting a major sports event that would lure visitors to a rival city, while heritage watchdogs insist that Olympic chiefs would never have been allowed to deface Windsor Castle with the emblem and have suggested finding alternative locations such as the Forth Bridge or North Bridge.

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A large aluminium-cast model of the five Olympic rings – as well as the Paralympic Agitos symbol – would be fixed to the castle walls and visible from Princes Street and the north of the city.

The planning permission covers a period of four months around the events.

The Olympic symbol has already been erected at St Pancras Station in London, with Tower Bridge also being considered as a site.

Edinburgh is the first city outside London to be invited to display the emblem though Belfast and Cardiff are also expected to be approached.

A spokesperson for London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, chaired by Lord Sebastian Coe, said Edinburgh Castle had been identified as the “right place” to erect the Olympic emblem following talks with the Scottish Government, Historic Scotland and the council.

He added that the cost of fabrication and installation would be met by the Government Olympic Executive.

“We are committed to this being a UK-wide games,” he said. “The London 2012 festival takes place across the UK and its a really strong programme of cultural celebration alongside the games in Scotland. With that, the torch relay and football being hosted at Hampden Park it’s part of delivering on our promise to genuinely make this a UK-wide games.”

But Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi poured cold water over the plans.

He said: “It’s galling to be asked to advertise an event that will draw tourists and visitors to a different city. I’m sure there will be a lot of strong objections from people in Edinburgh, and I certainly have substantial reservations about the idea.”

Director of the Cockburn Association, Marion Williams, said: “I can’t see them being allowed to put it up on Windsor Castle. They could have put it on the Forth Bridge or maybe North Bridge.”

Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald said: “Do you think London would put up a big sign saying the Commonwealth Games is being held in Glasgow? I don’t think so.”