THE Welsh Government remains “open minded” about the development of a Circuit of Wales project in Ebbw Vale, the minister responsible for blocking the scheme has said.

The £425 million racetrack scheme was thrown out for the third, and seemingly final, time in October last year over concerns about the amount of public investment which would be required.

But, speaking in the Assembly last week, economy and transport secretary Ken Skates said he remained open to any project which could bring investment into the area.

Mr Skates was speaking after the Welsh Government's permanent secretary Shan Morgan said the decision to scrap the project had been made after an assessment revealed the benefits and number of jobs which would be created was "uncertain at best”.

He was speaking in response to a question from Plaid Cymru AM Adam Price, who asked: “The permanent secretary did say in her remarks on Monday that the reason the Welsh Government had invested so much time and money and energy in this project was because of its huge potential to bring about a major investment in a part of Wales that hasn't seen investment at that scale.

“I understand that there is ongoing an attempt to restructure the proposal, to bring it forward in a different form, and that those discussions are proceeding positively with local authorities.

“If they do bear fruit, would the government not give financial support, but give its blessing and actually welcome the possibility that a restructured proposal would be able to bring about the badly needed investment that was anticipated in Ebbw Vale?”

Mr Skates replied: “It was found, based on international evidence, that the development of a cluster did not require the circuit that was proposed.

“However, a test facility, which would be akin to a circuit, could be complementary to the development of an automotive tech park, and, indeed, build on the investment that could go into it.

“So, I remain open minded about the long-term development of that particular project.”

When the Welsh Government refused the Circuit project it also announced plans for a new £100 million automotive technology park in Ebbw Vale, which it said would create 1,500 jobs in the area by 2027.

The Heads of the Valleys Development Company, which was behind the circuit plan, declined to comment.