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Launch of Wirral's Olympic column delayed
THE launch of a Wirral art installation celebrating the London Olympics will now not take place until after the games have ended.
The Wirral Column was to be the first in a series of 12 commissioned art works, known as the "Cultural Olympiad", celebrating the games in the regions of Britain.
Rising to a height of three miles from Birkenhead's Wirral Waters site in East Float, Birkenhead, artist Anthony McCall's three-mile spiralling tube of steam and light – expected to be visible for up to 100km – was initially set to be launched on New Year's Eve as a focal point for the Northwest's Olympic involvement.
The structure which produces Column will now be towed to its East Float site in mid-August and visible testing will begin around August 25.
From then on, locals will begin to see column starting to form and will be able to watch it gradually growing to its full strength and height over the following weeks.
The delay means it will miss the main games, which take place in London from July 27 - August 12.
However, it will be in action during the London festival and Paralympic games, which run until September 9.
A spokesman for Arts Council England said: "Column was chosen as the North West's artists taking the lead commission because of its originality and innovation.
"It's not unusual for big, ambitious projects like Column - using new technology and requiring several permissions - to experience delays.
"Of course they're frustrating, but the important thing is that Column will be in action during the London 2012 Festival, of which it is a part, and during the Olympic period which runs until the end of the Paralympic Games on September 9.
"Column will also operate for a full 12 months, for the people of Merseyside and beyond to experience and enjoy and as a legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games."
A planning wrangle meant its New Year launch date was postponed. Kevin Adderley, Wirral Council's planning director, signed consent following a meeting of the planning authority on May 31.
Permission was granted for the development on the proviso that the structure is removed by no later than July 31, 2013.
Permission was also dependant on there being no "detrimental effect through disturbance to birds” using the dock system."
The column is based on the principle of convection, where warm moist air is displaced by denser air.
The £500,000 piece of artwork will be responsive to natural light and weather and will bend according to winds.
At the time the proposal Mr McCall said he was excited to see his ideas come to life.
He said: "Wirral Waters’ cavernous estuary sky, constantly shifting weather, and its available docks already makes it a compelling location for the column.
"The fact that Merseyside also stands as a focal point for the whole of the Northwest makes it absolutely ideal."