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The Kelpies in Helix Park, Falkirk

Kelpies at Helix park , Grangemouth, Falkirk

The Kelpies  in the Helix Park opened to the public in April 2015  . The park opened with a  night-time artworks exhibition on the theme of Scotland as HOME with spectacular light, sound and flame display, by Groupe F, around Andy Scott’s iconic new cultural landmark. The aim is to provide an iconic landmark and tourist attraction for Falkirk . Drivers on the M9 can’t miss the 30 metre high sculptures as they drive past . Airport Taxi Transfers Falkirk can transfer visitors from Edinburgh Airport to the Kelpies in 30 minutes .

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Pick up point : Edinburgh Airport

Destination : The Kelpies , Falkirk

Journey time : 30 minutes

Fare : £35

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Destination : The Falkirk Wheel

Journey time :  35 minutes

Fare : £38

The new visitor centre at the Kelpies in Helix Park , Scotland opens next month . The Kelpies sculptures in Falkirk were open to the public in April last year.  Glasgow artist Andy Scott designed the Kelpies, with construction work on the 300-tonne, 98ft (30m) steel figures starting in 2013. The completion of the £5 million venture marked a significant stage in the £43 million Helix project, which aims to transform 865 acres of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth. The redevelopment was expected to attract an additional 350,000 visitors and add £1.5 million in annual tourism spend to the area, according to those behind the project.  The number of visitors to the area are expected to reach 1 million by May 2015   . The Easter holidays have seen bumper crowds coming to the Kelpies with families coming from all over Scotland to see the sculptures and take the tour.  . Work has started on a new visitor centre at the Kelpies which should be completed in a few months time
The new visitor centre at the Kelpies in Helix Park , Scotland opens next month .
The Kelpies sculptures in Falkirk were open to the public in April last year.  Glasgow artist Andy Scott designed the Kelpies, with construction work on the 300-tonne, 98ft (30m) steel figures starting in 2013.
The completion of the £5 million venture marked a significant stage in the £43 million Helix project, which aims to transform 865 acres of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth.
The redevelopment was expected to attract an additional 350,000 visitors and add £1.5 million in annual tourism spend to the area, according to those behind the project.
 The number of visitors to the area are expected to reach 1 million by May 2015   .
The Easter holidays have seen bumper crowds coming to the Kelpies with families coming from all over Scotland to see the sculptures and take the tour.
 . Work has started on a new visitor centre at the Kelpies which should be completed in a few months time

The Helix Park is a major attraction if you visit Falkirk , with   27 kilometres ( 17 miles ) of cycleways and footpaths , making it an ideal resort for families as well as walkers and cyclists. The Park is on the route of the new John Muir Way which goes from Dunbar , Muir’s home town , to the west coast of Scotland .  The Helix Park in Grangemouth covers a greenspace of almost 300 hectares. Opening up Scotland’s canal network, the Helix will also offer an outdoor recreational area filled with woodland, park, watersports lagoon, pathways, cycleways, and the hugely anticipated 30m landmark scupltures, the Kelpies.

The aim of the project is to transform under-used land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a thriving urban greenspace , “The Helix”. This includes a performance area, on which large scale events can be held, facilities for watersports provided by the construction of a large lagoon, all surrounded by play areas and high quality pathways.
The Kelpies will be a major tourist attraction in the same way the Falkirk Wheel is , but with no cafe or restaurant facilities visitors may spend little or nothing in the area . The performance area,  which could host large scale events ,  has potential to bring in revenue to the area  , although it is not clear just how much .  Callendar Park  used to host the Big in Falkirk music and arts festival . Recently Falkirk stadium has hosted concerts by Elton John and Rod Stewart .
The final element of the Helix is giant new 
playpark. A set of 
giant wooden tepee-like structures making up the adventure zone will tower over the park.

Falkirk Council has signed off the £377,000 tender for the playpark .

Councillors were told the Helix Park is considered a “destination” for play and the design had to show it could cope with a large volume of use from children aged from three to 14, be as iconic as the park itself and the Kelpies, use materials in keeping with the park which were also durable and be innovative.

Rhona Geisler, director of development services, said: “This will be one of the prime play areas in Scotland and it is expected to be widely used.

“There was a lot of community consultation and feedback about what would be required.

“This product has been selected because of durability and is expected to last for 40 years.”

She added it is hoped the project, which is being part-funded by sportscotland, will be a “great” attraction for youngsters.

 

A spectacular night-time arts event called HOME launched both the opening of the John Muir Way and the international launch of The Kelpies prior to their opening to the public . On two evenings, 17th and 18th April, a selection of one-off, specially-commissioned night-time artworks illuminated Helix Park, as thousands gathered round the iconic Kelpies for an extraordinary animation of the colossal 300 tonne, 30 metre-high sculptures backed by a pulsating soundtrack.

Groupe F – the pyrotechnic maestros who worked at Big in Falkirk as well as the Millennium illumination of the Eiffel Tower – brought the monuments to horse-powered heritage to life with a dazzling light, flame and sound performance.

Funding was provided by the Big Lottery Fund Living Landmarks programme. In 2005 the Helix project was awarded one of the top four prizes, which kick-started the £43 million project. The plans include a new 950-yard (870 m) section of canal, which joins the river below the four fixed bridges at a new sea lock. A new bridge under the M9 motorway has been constructed by cut and cover methods, and a lift bridge has been inserted into the A905 road. Two high-pressure oil pipelines which cross the area to feed the refinery at Grangemouth have been re-routed .

The Kelpies have become a major tourist attraction in Falkirk, a short journey from Edinburgh Airport .  Visit the Kelpies with Airport Taxi Transfers Falkirk . Phone 07576-127097 for a free quote to the Kelpies , Helix Park , Grangemouth

 

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Funding reduced for Edinburgh cycleways

Cycle campaigners in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland are calling on the Scottish Government to increase spending on active travel.

Campaign group SPOKES has been encouraging local cyclists to lobby their MSPs to demand that a greater proportion of Scottish Government money is allocated towards cycling infrastructure.

The Scottish Government has set an ambitious national target that 10% of all journeys should be made by bicycle by 2020. And despite a manifesto pledge to boost spending on active travel made just months ago, campaigners claim that the “budget reality” of proposals put forwards by the SNP shows that spending will fall from 1.1% of funding to a “near invisible” 0.8% of transport funding.

In previous years the Scottish Government has provided ring-fenced funds to encourage local authorities to invest in cycle infrastructure. It has also directly funded national charity, SUSTRANS, to build cycle routes.

In Edinburgh, this funding has seen around £1million spent on cycle infrastructure in the last year alone and recent surveys have shown that this investment is paying off, with significant increases in the numbers of people choosing to cycle in the city.

The SPOKES campaign has caught the attention of Government Ministers. In response to questions raised by a local MSP Jim Eadie in Holyrood, Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “I am aware of the rising number of cyclists in Edinburgh. I take this opportunity to praise City of Edinburgh Council members and officers for their commitment and leadership in making the city such an active travel success story.

“I recently had the chance to cycle into the city on an excellent cycle route. To my mind, the other local authorities should look closely at what Edinburgh has done and try to follow suit.”

However, Councillor Gordon MacKenzie, has made it clear that if that if the Scottish Government does cut active travel funds, such as the Cycle, Walking and Safer Streets fund, then it will have an impact on plans to improve conditions for cyclists in the city.

He said: “We’ve not got the final settlement details yet from the Scottish Government, but I would say that the Cycle, Walking and Safer Streets fund has been a very important catalyst in helping to drive forwards improvemen

Edinburgh Airport strike causes delays and disruption

Today’s strike at Edinburgh Airport by public sector staff , including the UK Border Agency , is causing delays and disruption. The airport has said there will be  some delays at peak times for international passengers arriving at Edinburgh Airport . Delays will also occur for departing passengers due to disruptions at other airports. The airport has worked closely with UKBA on their contingency plans and formulating its own measures to support passengers as they arrive at Edinburgh.

The impact at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports is expected to be far less severe than in London, where Heathrow’s chief operating officer has warned of 12-hour queues for passport checks at peak times.

London is more vulnerable to delays because it handles a larger volume of long-haul flights carrying non-EU citizens, who have to undergo more stringent passport controls.





Glasgow has one long-haul flight coming in on Wednesday, an Emirates service from Dubai, while Edinburgh has one flight arriving from Orlando via New York. Aberdeen has no long-haul flights.

Flights to and from Scotland are also vulnerable if the delays at passport control cause a backlog on the runway, as domestic UK services are cancelled to clear space for planes from overseas.

Special delivery – two pandas for Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Airport will receive a special delivery delivery on Sunday – two pandas bound for Edinburgh Zoo. The pandas will fly on their own plane courtesy of Federal Express. Edinburgh Zoo is expecting a 30% increase in visitors due to their arrival.

The breeding pair, Tian Tian – meaning “sweetie” – and Yang Guang – “sunshine” – will travel from Chengdu Airport in China in special containers .

“We have been looking forward to this moment for five years now, since we first embarked on this epic journey to bring the giant pandas to Scotland,” said Hugh Roberts, chief executive of Edinburgh Zoo.



“The arrival of Tian Tian and Yang Guang is an historic occasion for the zoo, for Scotland, and for the UK as a whole. Our dedicated team at the zoo has worked tirelessly to create a world-class enclosure to house our newest additions, which will offer visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view these extraordinary animals.”

The pandas will be on loan to the zoo for about ten years – during which time it is hoped that the animals, which are notoriously reticent breeders, will produce cubs. These would be the first baby pandas to be born in Scotland. Both pandas have successfully parented before, with Tian Tian giving birth to twins two years ago.

When the pandas arrive on the runway in Scotland, they will be greeted by officials from Edinburgh Zoo, the Scottish Government and officials from the panda project partnership, which includes the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA).

First Minister Alex Salmond will be on a trade mission in China at the time of the pandas’ arrival.

He said: “I will be in China myself on the day they arrive, signing a cultural exchange agreement with the Chinese, and I am sure all Scotland will be delighted to welcome Tian Tian and Yang Guang with the warmest of Scottish receptions awaiting them.

“Having the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo is a considerable honour and will be a huge draw for visitors. It will give a welcome boost to the economy and to tourism.”

The pandas will have a two-week “settling-in” period before going on display at the zoo, which is owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS).

The pair, who were born in 2003, will be the first pandas to live in the UK for 17 years, since Britain’s last giant panda, Ming-Ming, was sent back to China in 1994 after a failed breeding experiment with her prospective mate, Bao Bao.

Keeper Alison McLean, who will have responsibility for the pandas during their stay in Edinburgh, said her team had received a lot of support from the Chinese authorities. The pandas are currently at the Ya’an reserve in Chengdu, China.

She said: “The Chinese have been really good, really welcoming and have shared a huge amount of information with us. We’re in contact by e-mail on a regular basis and they’re there to back us up.”

The specially designed enclosure has been subjected to rigorous testing from panda experts from China.
The pandas are expected to eat up to 18,000 kilos of bamboo every year, which will be shipped in from a farm in The Netherlands.

“They wanted to make sure we had everything just right,” said Ms McLean. “They’ve worked with pandas for a huge amount of years, we haven’t. They weren’t here throughout the whole build process, and they just wanted to tweak one or two things.”

Dr Chunlin Zang, secretary-general of the CWCA, added: “From the very start, the CWCA has been working in partnership with the RZSS. With this historic arrival of Tian Tian and Yang Guang, our collaboration has entered a new stage.
“Together, we are looking forward to playing an important role in future giant panda research and conservation.”

Edinburgh Airport strike 30th November 2011

Passengers have been warned about significant delays on Wednesday 30th as immigration and passport staff join a 24-hour strike by up to two million public-sector workers over pension reforms.

Heathrow Airport could be facing gridlock with people forced to wait for up to 12 hours on planes.

Glasgow and Edinburgh airports also predicted problems due to the industrial action, with long-haul flights expected to face the worst delays. Delays may build up during the day for  travellers to Edinburgh



The UK Border Agency (UKBA) declined to speculate on the number of staff expected to turn up, but said the agency was doing all it could to minimise disruption, including asking other civil servants across Government departments to undertake training to operate border controls. Clearly this means a lower standard of service with inexperienced staff unlikely to be able to cope with a high volume of passengers. The strike is likely to enable visitors without proper documentation and visas to enter the country.

Airport sources said the disruption at Scottish airports was expected to be less severe because of the lower volume of long-haul flights.  Edinburgh travel resources are expected to be stretched to the limit as a backlog inevitable builds up during the day.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways said usual rebooking charges would not apply to those who cancelled travel on November 30. A spokeswoman for easyJet also warned of delays, but said it was planning to run a full schedule on Wednesday and had reluctantly concluded the UK Border Agency would be unable to provide a contingency plan to support normal operations.

Delays at immigration would mean passengers would have to be held on arriving aircraft. “This in turn would quickly create gridlock at the airport with no available aircraft parking stands, mass cancellations of departing aircraft and diversions outside the UK for arriving aircraft,BAA added.

A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said: “We are currently liaising with UKBA to ascertain what impact the planned strike action for November 30 may have on Glasgow Airport.

“Current indications suggest international arriving passengers can expect delays at passport control. However, this is a moving situation and we will continue to work closely with UKBA and our airline partners to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum and appropriate contingency plans are in place.”

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Airport said it was also waiting for updates from UKBA, which said in response: “We have full contingency plans in place – including asking civil servants across Government to seek the proper training to allow them to operate border controls effectively. We will aim to keep disruption at a minimum, but our priority remains the security of the border and inevitably there will be some queues for all travellers during the strike.”

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said disruption at border controls was unavoidable, adding: “The responsibility for disruption caused to the public and the economic damage that follows from that and the jobs that will be lost because of this strike lies with the union leaders who balloted while discussions were still going on and those union leaders who, on the basis of very low turnouts in those ballots, called strikes.”

Unions have criticised the agency after it emerged volunteers are being sought from across the Civil Service to cover for striking immigration staff. Many people are questioning whether the normal immigration controls will break down , potentially allowing visitors into the UK who would normally be turned away on security grounds. The strike might create a huge opportunity for terrorists to enter the country undetected.

Gatwick Airport’s chief operating officer Scott Stanley warned the action was likely to affect arriving flights across the UK, adding: “We would warn passengers to be prepared for the potential for significant disruption at the border zones … airport staff cannot man desks at the border zone, but we will provide all necessary assistance to the Border Agency.”