COUNCILLORS have been urged not to let a controversial statue “crawl away to somewhere else”.

East Lothian Council planners turned down proposals for a 16-foot sculpture of a bear to be created off the A1 near the Spott Roundabout, Dunbar, earlier this summer.

The bear, which was chosen as a nod towards the worldwide achievements of Dunbar-born conservationist John Muir, would have been created by Andy Scott, the artist behind the famous Kelpies horse-head sculptures near Falkirk.

However, the council’s planning officials dismissed the proposals in June.

They noted the potential impact the statue would have on road safety on the nearby A1 as the reason for the refusal.

An appeal is expected to be lodged with the local authority, which would see five councillors examine the merits of the scheme through the local review body (planning).

Herbert Coutts, from Dunbar Community Council, has backed the idea of the sculpture, which would be paid for by the Percent for Art Scheme, a condition of planning consent for any housing development. The scheme means 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.

The developers behind the plans for the bear, Hallhill Developments Limited, are in the process of building 525 houses in the south of Dunbar and the bear statue would constitute the artwork for the scheme.

Mr Coutts noted the plans could yet be appealed but, if unsuccessful, he urged the developers to look at the possibility of siting the bear in a different location in Dunbar.

Ward councillor Norman Hampshire had met Ken Ross, from the developer, where it was confirmed that an appeal against the refusal of the plans was likely.

Mr Coutts suggested offering alternative sites, adding: “If it turns out [the appeal is unsuccessful], we have discussed [the statue] before and would like to enter into discussions again and make other proposals.”

Suggestions were previously made for the sculpture to be created at the town’s Winterfield Park.

Mr Coutts, who was previously an archaeologist, museum director and a director of culture, said the creation of the sculpture was likely at a fairly advanced stage.

He added: “We don’t want to see the bear crawling away to somewhere else.”

Currently, no appeal has been made to the local authority on the sculpture, which is a nod to John Muir, who was born in Dunbar in 1838.

He emigrated with his family to the USA when he was just a child and would go on to play a leading role in the formation of the country’s national park system.

It is hoped the statue, which would see the bear standing on its hind legs, could generate similar interest to the Kelpies or the Angel of the North, near Gateshead.

However, the scheme has not won universal approval from members of the public or the town’s community council.

Pippa Swan from the group described the proposed location as “bizarre”, saying previously: “For me, it is a bizarre proposal and it looks like a polar bear or like an advertisement for a safari park.”