The first components of two horse head statues which will act as the centrepiece of a canal expansion project have been delivered.

The 30-metre-high steel-plated structures, called The Kelpies, will sit adjacent to the M9 motorway between Falkirk and Grangemouth.

They are part of the Helix project, which will see around 350 hectares of land transformed into visitor-friendly parkland.

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The Kelpies were designed by Glasgow-based sculptor Andy Scott, who is also responsible for the Heavy Horse, which overlooks the M8 at Glasgow Business Park, and the Arria statue, which can be seen from the A80 and has been dubbed "the Angel of the Nauld".

The neck section of the Head Down Kelpie was brought to Falkirk today under a transportation order arranged with 10 regional police forces.

It is the first of around 100 deliveries to the Helix site over the next four months.

The component parts are being made by contractor SH Structures at its yard in North Yorkshire.

Organisers said off-site manufacture of The Kelpie parts is critical to ensure the highest level of quality control and it will also enable onsite installation to be achieved in the shortest time possible.

SH Structures will now focus its efforts on the construction of the Head Up Kelpie.

Large foundations for the statues weighing around 1,600 tonnes are currently being laid by Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering.

Assembly of both the Head Up and Head Down Kelpies is scheduled to begin at the canal area of the Helix in June 2013, and they are expected to be complete by the end of September.

Once installed, the sculptures will form a centrepiece of the new Forth and Clyde Canal link being delivered as part of the Helix.

Mr Scott said: "The commencement of the freight operation bringing The Kelpies components to site really heralds their arrival on the Scottish landscape.

"This is a huge step towards their construction and will really begin to generate excitement and a sense of anticipation around the project.

"This phase marks the culmination of years of hard work, most recently by SH Structures and the dozens of professionals involved in their design, and I really look forward to seeing The Kelpies rise from the ground at The Helix site."

Mike King, programme director for the Helix, said: "It has been hugely impressive to see the fabrication and assembly process at SH Structures' yard.

"It emphasises just how significant an undertaking this is in terms of the collaboration with artist, designer, contractors and manufacturer."

Each weighing 150 tonnes, the statues are being made with 125 tonnes of steel framing and a further 25 for the ears, eyes and mane.