A £7m landmark sculpture to mark the border between Scotland and England could soon become a reality, expected to draw over 100,000 visitors and drive £4m of additional tourism every year.

The Star of Caledonia is set to provide a significant boost to the region’s socio economics and support the post-Covid Green Recovery, following a £5.5m funding promise that closes a funding gap of existing potential funding offered by the Borderlands Growth Deal.

Gretna Landmark Trust, the team behind the project, now hopes the funding opportunity will be embraced by the region to ensure the landmark sculpture can be built within the next few years.

The £5.5m of much needed funding has been made available by one of Scotland’s biggest wind farm operators, Community Windpower, which has a number of renewable energy projects across southern Scotland.

The idea behind the project was first discussed nearly 20 years ago, with early estimates that it would cost about £3m.

And organisers had hoped it would be ready in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but funding fell short.

Alastair Houston, Chair of the Gretna Landmark Trust, acknowledges this funding opportunity will be key to the project becoming reality, with planning consent given by Dumfries & Galloway Council for the sculpture set to run out in March 2022.

He said: “The funding from Community Windpower is such a welcome contribution to this exciting project and is very much appreciated by everyone associated with the Star of Caledonia.

"We need to look to the future with hope and ambition and our Star promotes that important message within a wider regeneration project.

“Having Community Windpower support the project provides perfect synergy to our aims and will act as a signal of growth and recovery across the region.

“The Star will be highly visible from as far south as Carlisle and will be a 365 day a year statement of Scotland's innovation, creativity, energy and ambition.

Star of Caledonia is a collaborative design between the late Charles Jencks and Cecil Balmond who worked with an interdisciplinary design team, selected after a 2011 competition. 

The landmark work is designed to capture the "powerful energy, scientific heritage and magnetic pull" of Scotland, as it pays homage to Scottish innovation and particularly James Clerk Maxwell, the pre-eminent Scottish physicist and mathematician. 

It was Maxwell who first said that light was energy and paved the way for Einstein and other great thinkers of the modern world.

Rod Wood, managing director of Community Windpower said: “The Star of Caledonia will be a fantastic asset to the region, proudly welcoming visitors and will potentially be a part of a wider powerful catalyst for regional regeneration in a post-Covid Green Recovery.

“The £5.5m of funding will be made available alongside our three major renewable energy projects in the region, Sanquhar II, Scoop Hill and Faw Side Community Wind Farms.

“This capital, generated from these three projects, will be just the start of long-term inward investment to the region including electric charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and green hydrogen, providing a significant boost to the ‘Green Recovery’ in Dumfries & Galloway.

“Dumfries & Galloway Council’s projected funding shortfall of £75m can easily be funded by the current wind farms waiting to be approved by the Council.  Sanquhar II, Faw Side and Scoop Hill Community Wind Farms alone will pay £15m in Council rates each year.  

“Covid-19 has had a major impact on the local economy and Scottish Government has made it clear – green growth is the only option.  

“The Council has just adopted a 5th Strategic Priority – maximise the region’s Green Energy Potential and hence the delivery of the Star project alongside our three projects will dovetail with its new policy to Urgently Tackle Climate Change.”