A STATUE of a 16-foot-tall bear could soon welcome visitors to Dunbar.

Plans have been lodged with East Lothian Council for a sculpture to be created off the A1 by Andy Scott, the artist behind the world-famous Kelpies near Falkirk.

The bear would, according to the design proposals, be up on its hind legs and would be standing on a base to the east of the town’s McDonald’s restaurant.

The unusual scheme is the idea of artist Andy Scott and Hallhill Developments Limited, which has been involved in the construction of more than 500 houses in the south of the town.

The bear has been selected by the developer as a nod to John Muir, who was born in the town before emigrating with his family to the United States of America and playing a lead role in the formation of the country’s national park system.

A design statement, included in the planning documents sent to East Lothian Council, states: “The bear symbolises Dunbar’s most famous son, the environmentalist and forefather of the United States’ national parks, John Muir.

“Much celebrated of late, his role in the awakening of our interest in the natural world is profound.

“It has been chosen to sculpt an animal symbolic of his travels through the far-off wilderness of America’s west, in the Rockies and Alaska.

“The bear will stand as a welcoming icon to the town of Dunbar and act as a prominent landmark, as well as a subtle reminder of John Muir.”

The sculpture would be made of welded steel and fully galvanised to protect it against the weather.

Standing on a mound, the bear statue, measuring approximately five metres in height, would be visible from the A1.

The statue would be created through the Percent for Art Scheme, which is a condition of planning consent.

Developers have to allocate a percentage of their capital spend to fund public artworks and involve an artist in any building project as early as possible.

Stephen Bunyan, chairman of the town’s community council, was happy with the location of the statue.

He added: “It was something we did not expect or need but once the location was planned we were reasonably happy.

“There was a suggestion of a sculpture of a different type – Apollo (the Greek and Roman god of the sun) – on the Spott Roundabout but we thought that would be a hazard.

“I think, on balance, we were happy with the proposal.

“There is no doubt these statues, whatever you think of them, interest people and I think the Kelpies certainly seem to have stimulated a lot of interest in their area.”