The Open Spaces Society, Britain’s leading pressure-group for common land, is relieved that, following the refusal of £210 million in backing from the Welsh Government, the Circuit of Wales motor-race track will apparently not now be built on a square mile of common land on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The Open Spaces Society, with the Brecon Beacons Park Society, British Horse Society, Gwent Wildlife Trust and other objectors, appeared at the public inquiry in March 2015 to argue that the track should not be built on the extensive Trefil Las and Twyn Bryn-March Common near Ebbw Vale in Blaenau Gwent.
However, consent for the development and the exchange of common land was granted in November 2015 by the then Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans.
Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society: ‘We were appalled that the Minister considered it acceptable to sacrifice a square mile of open hillside, where people have rights to walk and ride, on the edge of a national park. We were also dismayed by the offer in exchange of seven much smaller areas, scattered some distance away, where either there was already public access or the land was physically inaccessible.
‘However, we are pleased that, due to lack of funding, the mega development is highly unlikely to go ahead and that the common will not be destroyed. Strictly speaking, our organisations—all charities which rely on voluntary funding—should be reimbursed for the time and expense we incurred in fighting this white elephant.’
The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 as the Commons Preservation Society.* It is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. Its founders and early members included John Stuart Mill, Lord Eversley, Sir Robert Hunter and Octavia Hill. The last two founded the National Trust in 1895 along with Canon Rawnsley.
For more information please visit: www.oss.org.uk