Ebbw Vale motor racing track firm 'raises millions'

The track at Ebbw Vale would have the potential to host big championships and employ thousands

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The company behind a multimillion-pound motor racing circuit project in the south Wales valleys says it has secured enough money for the proposals, which could go to planners soon.

The track at Ebbw Vale would have the potential to host big championships and employ thousands in a £300m investment, says chief executive Michael Carrick.

Rassau industrial estate on the Heads of the Valleys Road is the chosen site.

Consultation with residents has begun, with public events later in August.

The plans were unveiled last November, and the Heads of the Valleys Development Company says formal proposals could be submitted to Blaenau Gwent council in a few months.

Start Quote

It will change and transform lives to the greatest degree in an area that is economically deprived”

End Quote Michael Carrick Heads of the Valleys Development Company

As well as the main racing circuit, there would be two motocross and a karting track, a business park and two hotels in a development.

Initially, figures of between £150m-250m were being quoted, but in an interview on BBC Radio Wales Mr Carrick said the scheme would cost more.

"It's actually a £300m investment programme over a number of years and access to the funding is coming from long-term infrastructure investors," he said.

"Part of the money is coming from banks and other equity partners doing work on-site such as hotels and other estate developers.

Mr Carrick said there were numerous reasons why the 830-acre site was acquired, including its transport links and proximity to major population centres, including Cardiff and Birmingham.

'Make a difference'

"But... it will make the most economic impact, it will change and transform lives to the greatest degree in an area that is economically deprived," he told BBC Wales

"Having this sort of level of investment... will make a difference."

The Heads of the Valleys Development Company was created to build and run the track.

It is headed by Mr Carrick, a former senior figure with the US investment bank Merrill Lynch, with former Labour Party leader Lord Kinnock, the chair of the advisory board.

Mr Carrick said early feedback from residents highlighted a need for training opportunities to ensure workers could be drawn from the local area.

The track could eventually host the World Touring Car Championship and motorcycling's MotoGP, according to the developers.

'Compelling'

Subject to planning permission, the hope is to start work on the site next year and operational by 2015.

Blaenau Gwent council has already said it is "seriously interested in any quality proposal which could drive a major inward investment in our area".

Meanwhile, discussions are still under way between the developers and the Welsh and UK governments about securing more financial support which Mr Carrick would make delivering the project easier.

Council leader Hedley McCarthy said the proposals were very exciting and would build on other local developments, such as dualling of the Heads of the Valleys road and the electrification of the Ebbw Valley railway line.

World Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch The proposed track could host events such as the Touring Car Championship

But motoring commentator Mark James was cautious, saying some of the other UK circuits had been struggling in recent years and could draw visitors from wide population areas.

"I'm trying not to be cynical about this but you are going to an area with no infrastructure - you are starting from scratch," he said.

"If the others can't make any money, what makes someone think they can any money.

"There are more questions than answers at the moment, but good luck to them."

Information about the public consultation events can be found on the Circuit of Wales website.

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