GWENT Wildlife Trust has issued a strong objection to plans by the Heads of the Valley Development Company to clear common land in preparation for the Circuit of Wales motor racing development.

They say the plans to install drains, roads, buildings and fencing would take place before permission has been granted to de-register over 340 hectares of common land near Ebbw Vale and identify suitable land in exchange.

The company behind the Circuit of Wales says if that does not go ahead it can remove the works and restore the common, but the trust say it will be impossible to restore the common to its current state and it will be ‘irrevocably damaged’.

A Gwent Wildlife Trust spokesman said: “The rich habitats present on the common that include mosaics of blanket bog, heathland and wet flushes will rapidly deteriorate as the site dries out with the de-watering of the peat on site causing dramatic shrinkage.”

Gwent Wildlife Trust say they are worried the proposed works could result in erosion and create an environment where flash flooding could occur. They say more than 700,000 cubic metres of peat is estimated to be removed for the Circuit of Wales development, amounting to filling the Millennium Stadium up to the halfway line from pitch to roof.

Gemma Bodé, conservation manager of Gwent Wildlife Trust, says “We shouldn’t underestimate the ecosystem services these upland areas provide especially in relation to the amount of water they hold when managed well.”

The trust said until the common land is de-registered and suitable land is identified in exchange under Section 16 of the Commons Act 2006, it will object strongly to the new application for clearance and drainage of the proposed development site.

A Trust spokesman added: “There is a real risk of dramatic and permanent destruction of important upland habitats, in an atmosphere of great uncertainty over whether the Circuit of Wales development will ultimately go-ahead.”