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A star is re-born

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
A star is re-born

THE sparkle is once again back in the £11 million Star of Caledonia project, which was this week relaunched.

It has a new proposed location in Gretna Green, alongside the B7076 and over the road from Smith’s Hotel, but the Star’s design stays the same.

Planning permission is now being sought for the illuminated development, which will include a visitors’ centre, and a public consultation is in the pipeline.

The aim is to begin construction next year. The finished structure would sit 35 metres above ground level, being taller than the Angel of the North. It would be visible from the M74 to travellers entering and leaving Scotland — and also visible from outer space.

The landmark was first discussed in 2003 by the late Alasdair Houston, farmer and owner of Gretna Green Ltd, as a way to reinvigorate the region after foot and mouth.

And the Star of Caledonia Trust are now hoping to finally fulfil his legacy and “breathe fresh life into this ambitious venture”.

They say moving it a mile from the original site in Gretna is a strategic shift, which will help attract about 500,000 tourists a year and drive more than £50m of additional tourism revenue over its lifetime. New jobs are also on the cards.

Funding has been secured in principle from Community Windpower, as well

as the South of Scotland Enterprise and Borderlands.

Commenting on the renewed scheme, Susan Houston, chair of the Star of Caledonia Trust, yesterday said: “We have always believed this project would happen. And with a new site and new plans, we have a new start.

“This revival is transformational and marks a pivotal moment for Gretna Green and the surrounding area, symbolising resilience, and adaptability in the face of challenges.

“As the Star of Caledonia gets a new home, the project is not just about a landmark sculpture but a catalyst for tourism, local economies, and community pride.”

Rod Wood, managing director at Community Windpower, believes the project will be the biggest cultural transformation of a generation. He added: “We believe the Star of Caledonia to be a special project and we are doing all we can to see it built.”

The Star of Caledonia was by drawn by internationally acclaimed designer Cecil Balmond. Its twists and lights design are inspired by the work of James Maxwell, the 19th-century Scottish physicist who lived near Castle Douglas.

Mr Balmond said of it: “The artwork signals the border between England and Scotland. It will act as a metaphor for the dynamism of the Scottish nation, symbolising the energy and power of Sottish invention and will be a welcome to Scotland.”