The proposed Circuit of Wales has cleared the final planning hurdle left standing between it and the start of construction. After an eight-day public inquiry, the decision was taken to approve the deregistering of common land needed for construction of the site. That clears the way for construction work to start once financing is in place.
The request to deregister common land was approved on the basis of extra land - 320 hectares, or some 800 acres - being provided to replace the deregistered land. The Planning Inspector charged with examining the proposal judged that the overall effect of the land swap would benefit the nature conservation efforts in the area.
With approval now in place, the Circuit of Wales now waits for financing to be completed. The Heads of the Valleys Development Company, which will run and operate the site, say they have full financing in place of £200 million, with a large amount coming from Asia, according to BBC Wales. Though the financing has been agreed, the financial backers are still in the due diligence phase, in which investors check that the mathematics used to calculate the viability of the circuit is actually valid, and the promised return on investment will materialize.
Construction of the circuit is set to commence either late this year or at the beginning of next year, according to the Bikesocial website. The work is to be carried out by the Spanish construction firm FCC, who were also responsible for a lot of upgrade work at the Jerez circuit in the past.
The press release from the Circuit of Wales appears below:
CIRCUIT OF WALES COMPLETES FINAL PHASE IN PLANNING
Deputy Minister for Farming and Food approves S16 application
Private finance exclusivity contracts in place
Former Bahrain International Circuit CEO appointed new Circuit of Wales CEO
17 November 2015
Today, the Heads of the Valleys Development Company (HOTVDC) confirmed that the S16 application has been accepted clearing the final planning hurdle for the Circuit of Wales development.
After an extensive and robust eight-day Public Inquiry, sitting in March 2015, approval by the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food Rebecca Evans AM has permitted land previously designated as ‘common’ to be deregistered into private ownership. Throughout the Public Inquiry, Circuit of Wales presented detailed plans for substantial on and offsite mitigation highlighting the suitability of replacement land, which will lead to improved maintenance and ease of access.
Importantly, Planning Inspector Emyr Jones BSc (Hons) CEng NICE MCMI agreed stating in his report: "The likely out-turn of deregistration would be an overall enhancement of nature conservation interests[...]resulting in an overall nature conservation benefit as a result of the proposal as a whole."
Deputy Minister for Farming and Food Rebecca Evans commented: “For the reasons articulated in the report – both by the Inspector but also by other parties, I believe the socio-economic benefits that will result from the deregistration of the common land will be of significant public benefit to both the immediate area and beyond.”
With the approval of the S16 application, HOTVDC can reveal that the required financing package is in place to support the project for the full amount and have an exclusivity contract in place with the financial backers who are in the process of completing due diligence. Once these have been completed, the supporters of the project will be publicly announced and detailed construction timelines revealed.
Michael Carrick, CEO of HOTVDC commented: “We would like to thank local councils, Welsh Assembly Members and the local community who have supported the project throughout the planning process up to this point. The Circuit of Wales has the ability to generate thousands of employment opportunities, attract greater long-term investment and deliver regeneration into Blaenau Gwent and South Wales."
Following the end of the judicial review period, and once construction and finance contracts have been finalised, on-site activity will commence.
Additionally, HOTVDC are pleased to announce the appointment of Martin Whitaker as Circuit of Wales CEO who will be charged with managing the transformation of 830 acres of Blaenau Gwent into an international motorsport circuit, technology park and training facility, utilising his extensive experience of working both on and off track. This appointment will allow Michael Carrick to focus his attentions on his role as CEO of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, specifically managing the financial aspects of the project whilst remaining an active board member for the Circuit of Wales.
Michael Carrick, CEO of HOTVDC commented: “Martin’s track record speaks for itself as he is one of the few men operating at the top level of international motorsport whose experience covers almost every facet of the sport. Martin has managed a modern Formula 1Ò venue at the Bahrain International Circuit, worked for both the sport’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de l’Autombile (FIA), and its commercial rights holder, plus the UK’s governing body - the RAC Motor Sports Association. Additionally, he has led a major motor manufacturer’s competition department and one of the world’s most celebrated racing series.
“The Circuit of Wales is already gaining experience and knowledge through our role as promoter of the British MotoGPTM. As we now focus our attentions on the build phase of the project, Martin’s guidance and experience will be invaluable to realising its potential as a catalyst for investment in the local economy and across the motorsport industry in Britain.”
After leaving the UK for the Kingdom of Bahrain, Martin was tasked with shaping every aspect of the Bahrain International Circuit as CEO helping to deliver the inaugural Formula 1 race in the Middle East in 2004. In subsequent years the circuit quickly became the ‘Home of motorsport in the Middle East’, attracting an array of international motorsport series, and developed into the leading corporate, cultural and community facility in a region without a long association with the sport.
Martin Whitaker, Circuit of Wales CEO, commented: “It is with enormous excitement that I look forward to working with Michael and the team at the Circuit of Wales to deliver this unique project for the British motorsport industry, the automobile industry and the people of Blaenau Gwent.
“I am passionate about the economic and social benefits that a venue such as the Circuit of Wales will bring, and firmly believe that the time is ripe for this development not only as an amazing entertainment and leisure centre, but also as an invaluable resource for the entire British motorsport and automotive