THE controversial £280 million Circuit of Wales project at Ebbw Vale will be the subject of a four-day planning inquiry in June.

Outline planning permission for the project, which could create several thousands of jobs, was awarded last summer and the Welsh Government has decided not to call in the application.

But it has announced that an inquiry will begin on June 24 though details, including where it will be held, have yet to be formally revealed.

The inquiry will focus on the Heads of the Valley Development Company Limited's wish to have access to hundreds of acres of the common land earmarked for the project, so it can begin enabling works such as putting in access roads, fences and other infrastructure.

The proposed use of common land north of Rassau, Ebbw Vale, to house the circuit has provoked the anger of environmental groups, with Gwent Wildlife Trust and the Open Spaces Society among the opponents of the project.

The latter's general secretary Kate Ashbrook said she is delighted at the prospect of an inquiry. The issue of the use and replacement of the common land has yet to be concluded, and she said: "We consider it is premature to start digging up the common until Welsh ministers have decided whether the scheme can go ahead. We are encouraged that the current works will be subject to independent scrutiny.

"We objected most strongly to this ugly and intrusive development on a substantial area of common land. We are pleased that, in the light of the objections, the planning inspectorate has resolved that there should be a public inquiry."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Official confirmation of the inquiry arrangements will be published in due course. The regulations state that a minimum of six weeks' notice must be given, so by May 13, a notice will appear in the press, on the (Welsh Government's) planning portal and on site, which will inform parties of all of the relevant information."