Joined: 14 Dec 2010
|Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:07 pm Post subject: Circuit of Wales
|Campaigners for the Circuit of Wales racetrack outside the public enquiry in Ebbw Vale
First published Tuesday 10 March 2015 in News
Last updated 10:33 Wednesday 11 March 2015
A PUBLIC inquiry into the Circuit of Wales racetrack opened in in Ebbw Vale today.
The probe has begun to look at the deregistration of common land needed to build the £315 million project.
The racetrack has already secured a five-year contract plus a further five-year option to hold the British MotoGP, but Silverstone will host the 2015 and 2016 races as its own venue is yet to be built after a series of setbacks.
The Welsh Government has given a £2 million grant towards the Rassau-based racetrack, which hopes to create 6,000 jobs and attract 750,000 visitors a year.
The hearing, which began today at the Blaenau Gwent council general offices, will examine an application by developers Heads of the Valleys Development Company (HVDC) to take over 244 hectares of common land at Twyn Bryn March and Trefil Las and replace it with so-called replacement common land in order to complete the project.
Ahead of the meeting, young people wielding placards, various community members, and Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies, gathered by the offices' entrance to show their support to the scheme.
Russell Harris QC, representing developers HVDC, said the project would represent one of the "biggest ever inward-investments into the deprived heads of the valleys area".
He said: "Real families in real neighbourhoods will see their life chances enhanced and their communities futures safeguarded as a result of the development thus facilitated.
"New areas of common will replace a little used and poorly accessed area of common behind the (Rassau) industrial estate."
He admitted the development would inevitably have an impact on the landscape, but said the planning application would enhance biodiversity and conservation when the replacement land, mitigation land and further mitigation land are taken into account.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) do not object to the application for the deregistration of land but do not agree that the replacement land would be of equal value.
Elizabeth Gibbs, of the Brecon Beacons Park Society, said the development would be of "irreparable damage" to the national park as the project is built near its borders.
Gwent Wildlife Trust said the loss of wildlife in the area as a result of the development would be "irreversible".
Evidence heard during the inquiry, which is chaired by chartered civil engineer Emyr Jones on behalf of the Welsh Government, will be passed on to Ministers who will make a final decision on the deregistration of land.
Those giving evidence over the coming days for and against the application will also include the Open Spaces Society, a local businesses representative, and a parish priest.
Issues to be discussed will include the effect of the development on biodiversity, conservation, public access, landscape and its impact against public interest.
The inquiry is expected to last at least eight day