The biggest new motor racing development in Britain "has been given the go-ahead with hugely ambitious targets" to earn £50M ($74.6M) a year, according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. Outline planning permission "has been rubber-stamped" for a £280M ($417M) development that will have a 3.5-mile circuit set in Ebbw Vale in South Wales. The development "is a partnership between government and a private investor and the claims for its future are huge." The Circuit of Wales will create up to 6,000 full-time jobs and attract 750,000 visitors annually "hosting national and international motor racing events, it is said, as well as becoming a hub for motor industry research and education." Optimism "is running high for the success of the circuit when it opens" toward the end of '15 or early '16. However, an economic downturn and a sport struggling to generate interest and entries "must place a question mark over the ambition of a project on this scale." Britain already has two full-scale circuit complexes, at Silverstone and Donington, with many more smaller circuits, such as Croft in the north of England, Snetterton in Norfolk and the "charismatic" Brands Hatch in Kent (LONDON TIMES, 7/10). The PA's Benjamin Wright reported that a track spokesperson said, ''The heart of the 830-acre complex will be a state-of-the-art motor sport facility, certified to host national and international motor sport events, with a 3.5-mile track taking advantage of the unique topography of Ebbw Vale. As well as being the U.K.'s first high-tech low-carbon motor racing facility, it will act as a business hub for global automotive companies and represent high-technology excellence.'' Officials also said that the "proposed development included an academy to develop young drivers as well as helping regenerate one of the poorest parts of Wales" (PA, 7/10).
FACING OBSTACLES: In Cardiff, Liam Moffett reported the scheme "had been met with opposition amid concerns about the environment." Among them was the Open Spaces Society, which "expressed concern about the circuit damaging common land on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park." Environmental watchdog Natural Resources Wales said the scale of the circuit would have “unacceptable environmental impacts,” including impacts on the special qualities of the protected landscape. During a full meeting, Blaenau Gwent Council members "granted outline planning approval." It means that HVDC will now "have to go away and draw up more detailed plans before the scheme can get the final rubber stamp" (WALES ONLINE, 7/10).