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Silverstone bosses ask Prime Minister David Cameron to block state aid from funding racetrack plans for Ebbw Vale

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: March 24, 2014

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An artist's impression of the proposed Circuit of Wales in Ebbw Vale.

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SILVERSTONE bosses have asked Prime Minister David Cameron to stop state aid from being used to help build a proposed £280m circuit in Wales.

The Welsh and UK governments are being asked by developers of the Circuit of Wales scheme in Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, for up to £50m.

According to the Heads of the Valleys Development Company the scheme will create 6,000 jobs and bring 750,000 visitors a year to the area.

There are plans for hotels, a grandstand, a technology park and a solar park, alongside the track.

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But Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips has written to Mr Cameron over the issue.

His letter said: "An injection of funds by the Welsh and/or UK governments to the Circuit of Wales project would amount to a transfer of state resources, which gives Circuit of Wales an economic and selective advantage over other circuits. As such, it could amount to illegal state aid.

"There are a number of well established, privately funded circuits in the UK, including Wales, that feel that the British motor sport industry would be threatened by the addition of a government-funded circuit."

A body which represents 17 UK race tracks, The Association of Motor Racing Circuit Owners, has argued that the circuit would harm motorsport.

But it has been reported that the Welsh government is considering investing £30m in the project.

The circuit hopes to secure the rights to host MotoGP, which attracts global audiences of up to 300 million, from September, 2015.

But building work, which was due to start last December, has been delayed by planning issues.

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7 comments

  • Neathboy234  |  March 25 2014, 1:15PM

    It is true looking back at the WDA's record that every project they invested in is now gone. I'd like to see more help for small business, rather than these huge showpiece projects

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  • Jiffy  |  March 25 2014, 8:50AM

    How soon people forget. The WDA gave £millions away to foreign companies in the belief that large numbers of jobs would be created. Millions that had to be written off, when these firms took the money, stayed for the minimum amount of time and moved onto the next country who'd give them free money. How much did LG take to build the white elephants in Newport, that stayed empty for over 10 years? This circuit is a joke. For a start it's being build on a soaking wet moor, which will take millions to drain. Even so, the track will never be stable, as the subsoil will expand and contract all year round. Most of the £50 million, will soon disappear into surveys, test drills and the huge pay packets of those running the company. Those who doubt the facts need to look at what happened to Donington Park, an existing circuit that tried to take the F1 GP away from Silverstone. The track was dug up and left a complete wreck because they never got the race. The owners were left with £10+ million debts and no chance of getting it back.

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  • pennygwin  |  March 25 2014, 8:16AM

    what a load of rubbish, any time the government invest in an industry it is giving them an advantage. Stop this and you have to stop all government grants including overseas aid which gives other countries an advantage over the UK. Is this person afraid of competition, become more competitive instead of being green with envy about a depressed area getting a leg up

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  • pennygwin  |  March 25 2014, 8:15AM

    what a load of rubbish, any time the government invest in an industry it is giving them an advantage. Sop this and you have to stop all government grants including overseas aid which gives other countries an advantage over the UK. Is this person afraid of competition, become more competitive instead of being green with envy about a depressed area getting a leg up

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  • pennygwin  |  March 25 2014, 7:59AM

    what a load of rubbish, any time the government invest in an industry it is giving them an advantage. Sop this and you have to stop all government grants including overseas aid which gives other countries an advantage over the UK. Is this person afraid of competition, become more competitive instead of being green with envy about a depressed area getting a leg up

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  • Jiffy  |  March 24 2014, 4:04PM

    Ebbw Vale is totally unsuited for a motorcycle racing circuit. The land chosen is completely open to the elements and suffers from very high winds and rainfall, throughout the year. No way will there anything like the number of jobs at the circuit. On a raceday the vast majority of people connected to the racing are unpaid volunteers. Claiming that the MotoGP race will be held at this track is complete nonsense. Dorna who run the event have had no dealings with the Circuit of Wales. The event is currently held at Silverstone and there are no plans to move it. The Welsh government need to do their homework, there are other racing circuits in Wales and I'm sure their figures on attendance, employment, etc are nothing like the claims being made by the people behind this waste of money.

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  • gixer400  |  March 24 2014, 2:50PM

    Silverstone are running scared, they lost 3.3million last year, and a new Welsh circuit would hurt I admit, but they have had decades to make it right and they still cant make it work, move over boys it's time for change, a circuit in Wales would be awesome and a welcome change, so Silverstone bosses if you cant make it work at least give us a chance.

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