Brands Hatch not out of the woods yet

Environmental group The Woodland Trust has called on the government to turn down Brands Hatch Circuit's plan to develop the Kent track as a site for the 2002 British Grand Prix

Brands Hatch not out of the woods yet

After Sevenoaks District Council gave its permission to Brands Hatch to build a new pits complex, media centre and grandstands - changes insisted upon by the FIA, the sport's governing body - the final nod must come from Environment Secretary John Prescott, since the circuit is within a greenbelt. But the Woodland Trust says granting permission would go against the government's policy statements on ancient woodland.

Redevelopment would mean the felling of 15 hectares of ancient woodland, but circuit owners Brands Hatch Leisure intend to replace these with 40 hectares at various sites. That pacified the government's own environmental watchdog, English Nature, but not the Woodland Trust.

A Woodland Trust statement said: "During a debate on ancient woodland in the House of Commons on May 10, 2000, Chris Mullin, parliamentary under secretary of state for the environment, transport and the regions, said that if Sevenoaks Council approved the Brands Hatch extension, it would be referred to the secretary of state as a departure from the development plan and that he would have the opportunity to call in the plan should he see fit. The Woodland Trust demands that this now happens."

A decision is expected within the next three weeks.

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