The Open Spaces Society has sent a briefing to Antoinette Sandbach, Assembly Member for North Wales, who is leading a short debate in the Welsh Assembly on Wednesday 21 January about the controversial Circuit of Wales motorsports development in Blaenau Gwent. The debate is called Giving the Circuit of Wales the red flag—outlining the concerns around the Circuit of Wales project.
The Open Spaces Society opposes the development because of its adverse effect on the landscape and people’s enjoyment of it, and on registered common land,(2) Trefil Las and Twyn Bryn-March Common. It is also concerned about the lack of transparency relating to its effect on the environment. The common is right on the boundary of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the society: ‘The public has rights to walk and ride over the whole area of common land which is threatened by the development. The Heads of the Valleys Development Company proposes to deregister nearly 250 hectares of common land and replace it with seven separate parcels of land(3), some distance away, which are already open to the public on foot. Furthermore the exchange land is mostly unsuitable for horse-riders. So both walkers and riders lose out from this development.
‘We are also concerned that part of Wentwood Forest in Monmouthshire, 30 miles away, has been offered as exchange land. The forest is leased by the Welsh Government, the decision-maker in this case. We worry about conflict of interest.
‘The development cannot proceed unless the common-land issues are resolved’, Kate continues.
‘We are pleased that Antoinette Sandbach has called for this debate which will enable these issues to be aired, and also counters the pro-development debate promoted by William Graham AM last December.’
Other objectors include the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, the Brecon Beacons Park Society, the Gwent Wildlife Trust and the Ramblers.