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Security stepped up for opening of Falkirk Wheel


INCREASED SECURITY has been ordered for tomorrow's opening of the Falkirk Wheel by the Queen, following last month's sabotage attack.

Police investigations are focusing on the attack being carried out by someone with a grudge against owner British Waterways. Several people have been questioned but, so far, no arrests have been made.

Since the night time attack, when upper lock gates were forced open, inundating the £20M structure with over 80M litres of canal water, a 60 strong workforce has worked round the clock to repair more than £200,000 worth of damage.

'It was a massive task as damage was severe with complex hydraulic and electrical circuits totally waterlogged, ' said Colin Castledine, director for Butterley, the wheel's designer, fabricator and erector.

Police this week said they did not suspect former British Waterways employees nor contracting staff of involvement in the attack.

'This was a serious premeditated attack by someone wanting to cause significant damage to a British Waterways structure, ' said Central Scotland Police detective inspector David Wilson.

Over £100,000 worth of additional security devices have been added to the structure to reinforce the computerised £600,000 water monitoring regime designed to instantly detect minute water level rises.

The wheel will open to the public this weekend, three weeks late. But it will have to be shut down in October and January so more than 1km of potentially corroding cabling can be replaced to satisfy the client's demand for a 25 year contractor's guarantee.

Purpose of the futuristic structure is to link the Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde Canal, 25m lower. Both waterways have been refurbished to create the £178M Millennium Link Canal and prime aim of the Queen's visit is to inaugurate the entire 110km coast to coast route, seen as a providing a catalyst to the commercial regeneration of central Scotland.

The wheel is expected to become a major tourist attraction, offering 40 minute boat rides in state of the art amphibious vehicles for up to 200,000 annual visitors.


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