Public inquiry further delays MotoGP venue Circuit of Wales

The construction of the planned £300m Circuit of Wales facility has been delayed again after a public inquiry was called to discuss the proposed British MotoGP venue

Public inquiry further delays MotoGP venue Circuit of Wales

Last autumn the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, which is overseeing the project, made an application to deregister 600 acres of common land at Rassau in Blaenau Gwent, where the circuit would be built.

It prompted development company director Chris Herring to target a December or January start date for construction of the circuit, for which several setbacks in securing planning permission led to it agreeing for Donington Park to host the 2015 British MotoGP round in its place.

But the Welsh Planning Inspectorate has now opted to call an eight-day public inquiry, which had initially been mooted last April, to hear evidence over the development's use and environmental impact in sessions at Blaenau Gwent council offices in Ebbw Vale in March.

A statement from the Heads of the Valleys Development Company said it supported the inquiry, insisting this would be "the final hurdle" in the process, claiming work would begin on the site swiftly if it produces a positive outcome.

"The planning process is a lengthy one and we will continue to work with the planning body to ensure on-site works start as soon as possible in 2015," said Michael Carrick, the project's chief executive.

"We are still aiming to have phase one site-wide and circuit infrastructure ready to host MotoGP when completed.

"This is a hugely important development, not just for the regeneration of Blaenau Gwent, but also for the UK economy.

"It's critical that we ensure every detail is considered in the planning process before construction works can commence."

The Welsh Assembly is set to host a short debate on the Circuit of Wales later today (Wednesday), chaired by one of the project's main opponents, North Wales AM Antoinette Sandbach.

The inquiry, scheduled to begin on March 10, could cast doubt over whether the Welsh venue would be ready to host the 2016 British MotoGP round.

Planning inspector Emyr Jones will make a recommendation to Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones, who would then make a decision over the project within four weeks.

However, that could then go to judicial review, which would put pressure on developers to decide where to host the event in 2016 as the minimum 12-month timeline to build the circuit means it may not be ready with construction pushed back to later this year.

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