The artist who is to carve a White Horse on a hillside in Kent says his work will capture the “spirit of the horse”

A new White Horse carved out of a hillside overlooking theChannel Tunnel is expected to help to “rebrand” the district and give it a distinct and new identity, says Shepway Council in Kent.

The project has been given the go-ahead by the Government despite opposition by environmental groups, English Nature and Friends of the Earth.

The artist behind the scheme, Charles Newington, says their fears that it will destroy spider orchids and disturb rare varieties of butterfly are unfounded.

“The spider orchids are half a mile away and when we did a mock-up of the work in 1999 [pictured above right], the butterflies seemed to like being exposed to the chalk surfaces,” he said.

Charles, who has had a number of exhibitions of ancient horse paintings throughout the world, put the idea to the council as a way of marking the Millennium celebrations.

The horse is the most ancient of Britain’s symbols and was used on coins and battle flags by the Celts.

“I started painting ancient images of horses after I’d been to the Paleolithic caves in the Dordogne in France – they were wonderful fat horses and I wanted to explore the power and magic of the imagery.

“The idea for this new project was also inspired by the3000-year-old White Horse at Uffington in Oxfordshire.”

The image of the horse in Kent will measure 150ft high by 265ft and will be carved out of the hillside with a spade and trowel, taking eight people around a month.

“It’s not supposed to be an anatomically correct representation,” said Charles, “rather the spirit of the horse.”

The council is hoping the White Horse will be completed in June this year.

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