Futuristic big wheel plan rolls into Edinburgh


By Michael MacLeod

EDINBURGH is set to get its own version of the London Eye in a bid to lure over half-a-million tourists to the capital.

Plans for an attraction dubbed “Scotland’s National Wheel” show it will tower 120 metres over the city – twice as high as the Scott Monument.

But designers say the city centre is not big enough for the giant Ferris wheel, and plan to erect it at the Leith Waterfront.

The area was chosen to tie in with a new transport station set to be built next year as part of the city’s ongoing tram project.

City leaders say the wheel, designed and funded by Great City Attractions (GCA), could become one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions.

Economic development leader Tom Buchanan believes visitor numbers to the wheel could match the 650,000 annual gate of Edinburgh Zoo.

“major tourist attraction”

He said: “This is a hugely important opportunity for Edinburgh.

“People make journeys to London just to go on the London Eye and we would look for people to do that in Edinburgh.

“It would help to bring forward a regeneration opportunity for that part of the city and would be a major tourist attraction attracting thousands of people.

“We would hope that it could attract similar numbers to those who go to Edinburgh Zoo.”

Birmingham-based giant wheel specialists GCA are currently building the world’s building a 208metre-high wheel in Beijing that will become the biggest on earth.

“no space in city centre”

They also operate wheels in Orlando, Singapore and Berlin.

Head of global site development Nigel Ward confirmed Edinburgh was next on their horizons.

And despite the city centre being out of bounds due to planning restrictions, he insisted a futuristic wheel “will become a destination in its own right.”

He said: “We are happy to confirm we have been speaking to Edinburgh City Council about the potential for a project of this nature in Edinburgh and the Waterfront is an area we have been considering.

“It is a simple statement of fact that there is not space in Edinburgh’s city centre for a wheel of this size.

“This is a completely different concept to the traditional Ferris wheel operated in the city centre at Christmas and is far more in keeping with the London Eye as something that will become a destination in its own right.”

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