A RACE is underway to display a plane on a roundabout which stands at the gateway to Farnborough - the home of British aviation.

Two groups of enthusiasts have been given the go-ahead to put an aircraft on the large Bradfords roundabout in the middle of the busy A325, near Frimley Bridges.

With the enthusiasts being at loggerheads, it seems the "winner" will be the first to raise the necessary money to pay for the project.

Initially one of the groups, which wants to display an ex-RAF Lightning, thought their planning application would have a free run.

But they were shocked last August when, out of the blue, a rival body submitted plans to put a lifesize model of a Gloster Meteor plane on the roundabout.

This led to a public squabble in which the Lightning group accused the Gloster people of trying to "gazump" them.

None of this concerned Rushmoor Council planners last week when they gave both applicants permission to put their planes on the roundabout.

Council planning chief Keith Holland said last Friday: "Our only concern was the aesthetic issue. If one plane was acceptable, then so was the other."

In a report the planners were told that both planes would be an attractive feature, and would reinforce the town's connection to the aviation industry.Experts have also told the council that, provided certain safeguards are taken, the plane should not cause any road safety problems.

In addition to raising about £20,000 each for the projects, the two groups also need to obtain the green light from Hampshire County Council which owns the roundabout.

Mrs Pam Loyal, spokeswoman for the Lightning group, said on Monday: "We are pulling out all the stops because we are determined to get our plane on the roundabout."

At the same time, she said, efforts are being made behind the scenes to find a compromise solution which will keep the Gloster enthusiasts happy.

It is possible they will be offered an alternative site for the model, which would be displayed as a tribute to Sir Frank Whittle who partly developed the jet engine at Pyestock's NGTE.