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Closed-road motorsport gets green light in the UK

The British government has given the green light to allowing more closed-road motorsports in the UK, a move that also removes one barrier to a Formula 1 street race in London.

The announcement, made by British prime minister David Cameron at the opening of the Williams F1 team's new motorsport engineering facility in Oxfordshire, will enable local authorities to suspend the Road Traffic Act, which currently requires an Act of Parliament.

"We are going to enable more road races for GB motorsport," said Cameron, who revealed it would feature in the Deregulation Bill currently going through Parliament.

"We think this will be really useful to British motorsport: more races, more events, more money coming into the country and more success for this extraordinary industry.

"We have a great tradition of motorsport in this country and today we are bringing British motor racing back to British roads, to benefit local communities."

A consultation, pushed by the governing body of UK motorsport, was carried out earlier this year over proposals to change the law.

The focus of the Motor Sports Association-backed campaign was primarily to allow more rally stages, sprints and hillcimb events - as well as public demonstrations - to take place on closed public roads.

The Jim Clark Rally is one of only a handful competitive British events currently held on closed roads, although the two British Hillclimb Championship rounds are staged in Guernsey and Jersey respectively.

"This has the potential to transform British motorsport and is something that we have campaigned for over a very long period of time," added Rob Jones, MSA chief executive.

"We are extremely pleased that the government has recognised the benefit of motorsport, not only to the UK economy but also to the sporting success of the country.

"It is a significant step forward and will bring Britain in line with other countries across Europe where this is already commonplace."

Grassroots motorsport will remain the biggest beneficiary of the move, with a government statement claiming as many as 20 events could be held, but the change will remove a hurdle for a potential London grand prix and also the new Formula E Championship for electric vehicle.

While a London-based F1 event would still have to overcome cost, safety and track design issues, and has developed no further than a promotional stunt by F1 team and event sponsor Santander, the finale to the inaugural Formula E season has been planned for London's Battersea Park next June.

It has only announced that the park in the Borough of Wandsworth is its preferred location and the plans still need to be approved by the local council after discussions with local residents.

It is unlikely that the bill would become law in time to allow for a race on closed roads next year.

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