TOP officials at the multi-million Circuit of Wales project say the results of discussions with the body in charge of the MotoGP motorcycle championship should be concluded within the next few months.
With the Heads of the Valleys Development Company set to make its application to use common land next week, the project's Peter Thomas and Jonathan Jones criticised opponents of the process.
The Circuit of Wales is a £250 million project in Rassau, near Ebbw Vale, that promises a race-track and motor sport complex, creating a possible 6,000 jobs.
It is hoped that the race-track would host the UK leg of the MotoGP competition in 2016 – although delays have put paid to the earlier aim of hosting it a year earlier.
MotoGP is managed by Dorna, a private firm based in Madrid.
Peter Thomas, who is CEO of Insight in Infrastructure and responsible for the project’s planning, said: “We’re still in commercial discussions with Dorna regarding MotoGP and will be in a position to outline what result of those discussions within the next few couple of months.”
It is hoped that developers can start building in October 2014, which could see it completed by mid-summer 2016.
That would be soon enough, Circuit of Wales head of recruitment and training Jonathan Jones says, to host the MotoGP in 2016.
The Circuit of Wales project involves using some 600 acres of common land, and developers are due to make its so-called section 16 application to exchange that land early this week.
Developers want to put some 800 acres back in as common land, with around 430 acres coming from Blaenau Gwent council.
But the need for common land has been criticised by the Open Spaces Society – the Guardian quoted general secretary Kate Ashbrook on Monday as wanting the project halted, saying a large noisy development would be a disaster.
Mr Jones said: “It’s all very well for someone sitting in Henley [-on-Thames] to make quotes like that. Take a walk down Henley High Street, which I did where they are based, and then take a walk down Abertillery, Blaina, Ebbw Vale.
“The reality is that in all parts of the world we have an enormous amount of common land. What we don’t have is job opportunities.
"You have to find a balance.”
Colin Greeves, secretary of the Duke of Beaufort Breconshire Estate Commoners association, confirmed that farmers on the common land had agreed to surrender a number of rights, subject to if the “track takes off”.
This agreement will see the farmers given compensation. Some 31 have grazing rights on the common.
He said the commoners were happy with the developers over the process: “They [Circuit of Wales] have been upfront with us as an organisation.”