A HUGE sculpture of a bear which will welcome people to Dunbar in the New Year has been revealed.

Renowned Scottish artist Andy Scott – responsible for the Kelpies, near Falkirk – has created the work-of-art in tribute to Dunbar-born John Muir.

Initially, the 16ft-tall bear was turned down by East Lothian Council’s planning department before getting the go-ahead from the council’s local review body; it was then backed by the Scottish Government.

Planning permission has now been finally granted, following approval of conditions though Transport Scotland and final approval by the Scottish Government.

The sculpture, which will be sited off the A1 at Dunbar near McDonald’s and Asda, is due to be unveiled in the spring. The location has been selected as it forms the primary gateway into the town and is visible from the railway line, said the applicants.

Ken Ross, from applicant Hallhill Development Ltd, said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government has approved this fantastic piece of public art and are actively engaged with Andy to get the bear erected in Dunbar in spring 2019.

“This piece of art will not only contribute to the emerging identity of Dunbar’s new gateway but has the potential to draw people into the area to find out more about John Muir.”

Mr Ross was confident the sculpture would prove popular with children and would become a landmark.

The sculpture is made of welded steel and fabricated from steel plates of various thicknesses, heavy at the bottom and lighter towards the top. Visitors will be able to access it via a walkway.

The plans were originally turned down after an objection from Transport Scotland, which felt it would “result in inappropriate parking which would interfere with the safety and free flow of traffic on the A1”.

However, at the local review body meeting, three councillors disagreed and gave it the go-ahead.

Among those approving the plans was ward councillor Norman Hampshire. He said: “The proposal has had a range of different opinions within the community.

“However, any piece of new artwork that is ever produced and put into a location always has different opinions from different people about whether it is good or not.

“The artist selected to produce this is well-known. He did design the Kelpies, which is now an internationally known piece of artwork.”

Andy Scott has completed over 70 projects across the UK and internationally.

He was delighted it had been approved and said: “It is fantastic that we have now been given the green light to create this sculpture in memory of such an influential character as John Muir, especially given today’s environmental climate.

“His role in creating national parks is well known in the United States, but sadly not so well known here and this bear sculpture will provide an opportunity to enlighten people about the man and his work.

“It is a symbol of the wilderness John Muir was such a passionate advocate of and is testament to his incredible desire to protect the natural environment.”