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£350,000 repair bill for vandalised Falkirk wheel

FINAL REPAIRS to the vandal-hit Falkirk Wheel will cost up to £350,000 and will not be completed until mid-February, British Waterways confirmed this week.

Lack of evidence is still stalling police investigations into the attack on the £20M structure shortly before its planned opening in April this year (NCE 25 April).

The Wheel links the high level Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde Canal 25m below. Vandals targeted lock gates on the new concrete aqueduct which links the higher canal to the Wheel.

Millions of litres of water were released in the night time attack, inundating the five storey control room and partially submerging an electricity substation. Electronics were saturated, hydraulic fluid contaminated and pumps ruined.

Temporary repairs were effected in time to allow the Queen to officially open the project in May. 'But our real worry is the effect on the telecom cables, ' BW Scotland chief civil engineer George Ballinger said this week.

'Even though they're working fine at the moment, we need reassurance over their long term durability and the risk of corrosion triggered by the immersion. This means total replacement.'

A mid January to mid February closure will be used to complete the repairs, Ballinger said.

The Wheel re-opened on Monday this week after a two week routine maintenance period, during which more repair work was carried out. 'In fact we've had far fewer teething troubles than we originally expected before we had the vandalism, ' Ballinger added.

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