24 March 2014: The Circuit of Wales has been made aware that an employee of Silverstone Circuits Ltd. has written to the Prime Minister to question the legality of public investment in the development.
It is important to note that the Circuit of Wales is located in one of the poorest areas of the country and as such it qualifies for support in encouraging economic activity. Any application for support, once made, will be fully appraised in line with existing policy and procedure.
Michael Carrick CEO of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, commented: “We are disappointed to have heard of the content of this letter, it sounds like Silverstone is resistant to investment within the automotive sector which is vital to its continued growth and development in the UK. The suggestion of ‘ illegal state aid’ made by Silverstone also highlights they do not understand the basic process of applying for state funding of this nature.”
The government is keenly aware of the value that British technical leadership in motorsport brings to this country – not only in terms of its £9bn annual turnover but also the fact that almost 80% of global automotive research and development is carried out in the UK. At present, however, the sustainability of that industry is being called into question, with migration of key businesses in the sector being linked to an ageing and inefficient infrastructure.
Wales has shown its value as a hub for engineering excellence in relevant sectors such as the global aviation industry, where 160 companies employ 23,000 people and generate an annual turnover of around £5 billion. A significant number of 'Tier 1' automotive manufacturers, including Ford and Toyota, and serviced by an established, diverse supply chain – are also based in Wales.
The Welsh government and the local community in Blaenau Gwent understands and supports the Circuit of Wales both as a catalyst for economic growth and as a venue for world-class sporting entertainment.
For the first time since Britain built the world’s first permanent racetrack at Brooklands in 1907, we have the opportunity to create a bespoke venue from the ground up. The Circuit of Wales is a unique investment opportunity: a development designed to meet the public’s expectations of a modern sporting venue and the commercial imperative to deliver a business hub that will sustain and support the British motorsport industry.
“The Heads of the Valleys Development Company cooperated fully with the BBC to provide a full and accurate picture of what Circuit of Wales will mean to Wales in terms of jobs, opportunities, and investment to transform one of the most deprived areas of the UK.
“We are pleased the BBC highlighted the support expressed for the project within the community, however, we are disappointed in the way the jobs and investment aspects of the project were represented.
“The job estimates quoted are derived from sources independently commissioned by the Welsh Government, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, and the Heads of the Valleys Development Company. We have been mindful not to over promise on job estimates. We are currently putting in place training provisions with our partners to ensure people from South Wales have the necessary skills to access the wide range of jobs that will become available.
“The jobs created are not confined to the actual Circuit of Wales site, they will be spread throughout the region as we attract the automotive industry to relocate to the area. Independent forecasts point to around 2,300 construction jobs and between 4,000 and 6,000 full time jobs created as a result of this investment programme.
“We have been working hard to secure the investment needed to underwrite this development. This is a new form of public / private partnership where the role of government is to enable and attract private capital. Investors are attracted to the unique automotive industry hub and by the social benefits it will deliver to one of the most deprived areas of the UK. There is significant support and commitment from investors to make this project a reality, and, at an appropriate time, we will be announcing our partners and investors to deliver what will be the largest investment in UK automotive infrastructure for 50 years.
“Our ambition is to bring the best in British and international motor sport to the development and we will continue to have discussions with all relevant governing bodies and promoters to achieve this. Due to contractual obligations we cannot reveal the detail behind these deals until it is appropriate and agreed by all parties. There will be further announcements around key events that will be hosted at the development in due course.”
Circuit of Wales’ team is drawing 2013 to a close following a successful Meet the Buyer event in Ebbw Vale where over 400 local businesses met our construction partners, Alun Griffiths and FCC. The project team is also now submitting a S38 application to Welsh Government to undertake enabling and mitigation works on the site, and is pressing on with the process of identifying suitable replacement common land.
In addition, an archaeological scheme of investigation has been submitted, reinforcing the progress being made behind the scenes to start bringing the transformational £280 million project to life.
A Merry Christmas to everyone and a happy start to 2014 from Circuit of Wales!
The Circuit of Wales project team was delighted with the turnout at our first Meet the Buyer event in Ebbw Vale. Hundreds of people attended and met our construction partners FCC Construcción and Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd.
We encourage organisations to now complete the PQQ which can be found on the homepage of this website.
Leading Welsh law firm Hugh James has been appointed as a long term partner by the Heads of the Valleys Development Company to assist it in delivering the £280 million Circuit of Wales development.
In a move that reinforces its commitment to appointing Welsh companies, Hugh James will join London based international law firm Stephenson Harwood in providing guidance and local support within the project.
Hugh James will also be facilitating business engagement events enabling Welsh organisations to meet key project heads from the Circuit of Wales team. The aim of the events is to ensure businesses understand the opportunities that exist within the project and what it means to Wales.
It is envisaged the business engagement events will commence early in the New Year and David Roberts, Head of Property and Construction at Hugh James adds: “We are delighted to be working on such an important project for Wales. You cannot fail to be impressed by the vision displayed and opportunities presented by Circuit of Wales and it is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for Wales.
“We will assist the project team in ensuring Welsh business truly benefits, and will help source business ambassadors who can spread the message to other organisations.”
Michael Carrick, Chief Executive, Heads of the Valleys Development Company adds: “Hugh James will play a pivotal role in the coming months in helping us engage with business throughout Wales. This is vitally important to us as a project as the whole ethos behind Circuit of Wales is to transform lives and ensure the Welsh business community benefits as much as possible from the opportunities available. Reinforcing this role is their excellent legal knowledge and we are very pleased to count them as a partner.”
Circuit of Wales has announced its first major community partnership with the news that Blaenau Gwent’s leading hospice care provider, Hospice of the Valleys, has been chosen as its lead charity partner.
Hospice of the Valleys based in Tredegar, is a specialist palliative care team who have been serving the people of Blaenau Gwent for over 20 years. They provide hospice care 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no cost to patients and their families.
Caring for over 500 patients a year, the Hospice team includes a palliative medicine consultant, specialist palliative care nurses, specialist social workers, a specialist physiotherapist, welfare rights officers, complementary therapists and a chaplain. Patients view the Hospice as an invaluable source of compassion, support and advice at a difficult time in their life.
Chosen by Heads of the Valleys Development Company, the team behind the Circuit of Wales, Hospice of the Valleys will benefit from assistance with running costs for the clinical service as well as its £3m build programme consisting of a new Hospice Centre in Ebbw Vale. Furthermore, once the Circuit is operational, there will be a number of fundraising events taking place.
Andrew Richards, Chief Executive Officer, Hospice of the Valleys said: “Words cannot express how grateful we are to Circuit of Wales for choosing us as their lead charity. We care for patients and their families within the heart of the Valleys during very difficult times in their lives, but many people are still unaware that the services we offer are free.
“Hopefully, with the help of Circuit of Wales we can reach more people within the community and help them to live as actively as possible after diagnosis to the end of their lives, however long that may be. We place the highest value on respect, choice and quality of life.”
Jonathan Jones, Head of Training and Recruitment for Circuit of Wales said: “Hospice of the Valleys cares for over 500 local people a year and makes a hugely positive contribution to the community that should be commended. We are delighted to be able to assist them in their crucial work and look forward to a long and positive relationship that will help them grow within the community to reach more people and their families.”
For more information about the services Hospice of the Valleys offer, please contact them by calling 01495 717277 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Circuit of Wales is holding a ‘Meet the Buyer’ day in December in Ebbw Vale with exact date, location and timings to be announced shortly.
The event is an opportunity for businesses wanting to get involved in Circuit of Wales to meet with organisations already appointed to handle the construction.
Keep watching this website and the press for more announcements.
Circuit of Wales is delighted to announce that one of its Youth Ambassadors, Dylan Hurter, has been appointed to the role of Deputy Youth Mayor of Blaenau Gwent. Dylan attends Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw and has been instrumental in getting important messages about Circuit of Wales out to the community. His passion and commitment for all things Blaenau Gwent always shines through and we have no doubt he will do a fantastic job in his new role.
Everyone at Circuit of Wales wishes Dylan the best and is proud to have him on the team.
The Circuit of Wales team was delighted to receive the CIPR Wales Award for Community Relations recently. The award was in recognition of the community engagement campaign carried out throughout Blaenau Gwent to launch Circuit of Wales and explain to the public at large what the project means to the area. Hopefully this is the first award of many associated with the development
The CIPR is the professional body for Public Relations Practitioners in the UK. With over 10,000 members involved in all aspects of Public Relations, it is the largest body of its type in Europe.
Following its successful outline planning application, the £280m Circuit of Wales, led by the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, has reached agreement with Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council on the Section 106 aspect of the planning application.
Section 106 refers to the planning obligations put in place in order to deliver the project. It can now be confirmed that Circuit of Wales, as well as delivering huge benefits to the community in terms of jobs and investment will also bring about a:
•Training Placement Programme that will deliver a minimum of 1650 training placements in construction and service-based industries
•Renewable Energy Scheme that will deliver a fixed price energy solution for a number of residents and businesses within Blaenau Gwent
•Community Benefit Fund of up to £750,000 over 10 years
•Youth Engagement & Training Programme
•Mitigation strategy for improved grazing and habitat – this will provide better biodiversity, something being worked on with Natural Resources Wales (NRW)
A Low Carbon Automotive Centre of Excellence, Circuit of Wales represents the UK’s largest ever privately led capital investment programme in motor sport related infrastructure.
The agreement has been warmly welcomed by Jonathan Jones, Head of Training and Recruitment for the project. He says: “This represents a huge milestone for Circuit of Wales and means we are now a major step closer to delivering the many jobs and opportunities the development will offer.
“I must applaud the diligent work carried out by the local authority and the attention to detail that has been displayed by all parties. We envisage our construction partners, Griffiths and FCC being on site in the coming weeks commencing with outline ground works before construction proper begins early next year.
“We will continue working closely with all stakeholders involved in the development which includes the Welsh Government on the issue of deregistering the common land and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on environmental mitigation measures.”
It is estimated that some 750,000 people will visit the completed facility each year and it is expected to generate £50m per annum for the Welsh economy. An anticipated 3,000 new jobs will be created during the construction phase, with approximately 6,000 new jobs once the development is complete. This transformational investment project will have a positive impact on the local community and economy, with the development providing the impetus for the long-term economic regeneration of the region.
The first phase of the multipurpose development will be the construction of an international specification motor racing circuit, including a hotel and commercial and retail complexes. The state-of-the-art facility is due to be completed in 2015/16. It is designed to host international motor sport events and will be a centre for motor sport-related industries. It will include a 3.5-mile track that takes advantage of the unique topography of Ebbw Vale, a Motocross track, an international karting track and off-road driving facilities.
The automotive park will be one of the world’s leading sustainable developments, targeting the growth of low-carbon industries and events. It will be a hub for research and development companies that are seeking to push the boundaries in environmental technology and energy solutions. The park will showcase the latest technologies that capture and generate energy for the facility.
A race academy and training facility to develop future Welsh and UK talent will work in unison with the motor racing circuit. Commercial, industrial and leisure developments will be at the heart of the project, providing opportunities for the growth of advanced engineering, technology, education and sustainable transport-related businesses.
A full council meeting decided in favour of the project, following the council planning officer’s prior recommendation that permission be granted. The low carbon automotive centre of excellence, proposed for development near Ebbw Vale, will create thousands of jobs and has been projected to deliver £50m annually to the UK economy.
The first phase of this multi-purpose development will be the construction of an international specification motor racing circuit, including hotel, commercial and retail complexes. It will include a 3.5 mile track, Motocross and international karting tracks, and off-road driving facilities. A racing academy will also nurture the finest up-and-coming talent in Wales and the UK.
The automotive park will be one of the world’s leading sustainable developments targeting the growth of low-carbon industries and events. It will be a hub for research and development companies who are seeking to push the boundaries in environmental technology and energy solutions.
Sigma Wales has been revealed as the organisation that will be responsible for training workers on the proposed Circuit of Wales automotive centre of excellence. The appointment will see Sigma playing a crucial role in developing and upskilling local employees for the £250m project, and the organisation’s boss says it will ensure that people are given skills that employers want and not “soft, empty certificates”.
This latest appointment on the project is another statement of intent from Circuit of Wales, following the naming of local businessman Jonathan Jones as Head of Recruitment and Training in March. Sigma has a strong track record in the automotive sector, having worked with some of the industry’s biggest names such as Jaguar Land Rover, Caterpillar, Audi and BMW.
The organisation’s focus is on giving people a bridge to employment by teaching them what is required by employers. Relevant skills for the modern workplace are emphasised in this training: hard and soft skills, behaviour, communication and workplace values.
Brendan Hand, CEO of Sigma Wales, says: “We make sure people get the chance to impress the employer and this definitely increases their understanding of what businesses need from them as employees. We don’t train for training’s sake: training must be relevant.”
According to the group behind Circuit of Wales, the provision of local jobs is one of the key reasons the project has been proposed for Blaenau Gwent –a region where less than two-thirds of working age people are in employment– and not other locations in the UK.The Heads of the Valleys Development Company has long emphasised its commitment to revitalising the region through allocating jobs to local people, and the appointment of Sigma is testament to their desire to upskill a new generation of workers.
“Since the inception of Circuit of Wales, the word on everybody’s lips has been ‘jobs’,” says Michael Carrick, chief executive of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company. “It’s one of the main reasons we decided we wanted to bring the project here: the positive effect it would have in reawakening a dormant economy by putting people into work.”
Brendan Hand believes his company’s appointment to the Circuit of Wales cause will answer the questions many people have asked on the issue of employment. “We are passionate about the impact that the Circuit of Wales would make in the local and wider communities in Ebbw Vale, and about the legacy it would leave for future generations,” he says. “This fits so well with what Sigma is about and our values, and we are convinced that we can make a real difference. We are proud to have been contracted for this project.”
Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council is set to make its announcement regarding the planning decision on Circuit of Wales early next month, with the date publicised in advance of the full Council meeting.
Hundreds of support forms from people supporting the Circuit of Wales automotive centre of excellence have been submitted to Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council ahead of their planning decision on the project. The proposed £250m development represents the biggest investment in the UK automotive sector in over half a century, and local politicians and citizens alike are calling on the council to give the green light to a project that will create thousands of much-needed jobs in the region.
The newly-announced Circuit of Wales Youth Ambassadors (pictured) spent last Thursday morning sorting through the forms at the new Co-operative Communities First base in Winchestown, Nantyglo, in preparation for their submission to the Council’s Planning Department on Blaina High Street.
Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent and Welsh Government Minister for Natural Resources and Food, had strong words of support for Circuit of Wales recently. “This is a fantastic proposal and the benefits to the borough are endless,” said Mr Davies. “Not only would the development increase tourism, help existing businesses with a massive influx of visitors to Blaenau Gwent, but the potential for employment is huge.”
Unlike most planning decisions, which are made by the Council’s Planning Department, the fate of Circuit of Wales will be decided by the full Council due to the significance of the project. The Heads of the Valleys Development Company, who are the group behind Circuit of Wales, say they feel emboldened by such strong community support in the project.
“These days, most opinions are expressed via the internet, so the fact that so many people have taken the time to sit down and put pen to paper to write about their hopes for the project is encouraging,” says Michael Carrick, chief executive of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company. “That said, there have been floods of emails in support of Circuit of Wales sent to the council too, so we’re equally grateful to every person who has felt strongly enough in favour of the project to make their feelings known. We hope they continue to do so.”
Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council is set to make its announcement regarding the planning decision on Circuit of Wales this month (June), with the date publicised in advance of the full Council meeting.
The company behind the £250m Circuit of Wales, a Low Carbon Automotive Centre of Excellence, have appointed their first Youth Ambassadors to help deliver their message to Blaenau Gwent. The youngsters, all of whom are from the local area, have been described by a leading member of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company as representing the ‘future of the project’.
The project team recently held their final Circuit of Wales community consultation prior to Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s planning decision in June. Members of the Youth Ambassadors team have been assisting in the Circuit of Wales exhibitions since last year, and the Heads of the Valleys Development Company sees their new roles as a natural progression.
Many of the Youth Ambassadors are already active volunteers in the Co-operative Communities First in the Ebbw Fach Valley. Michelle Hurter, a youth worker for the programme who brought the team of youngsters together, says: “Their main duties will be to inform the wider communities of Blaenau Gwent about Circuit of Wales, in particular the young people of the borough. They’re understandably thrilled and very keen to represent such a beneficial project for the area.”
One man who understands what it’s like to grow up in Blaenau Gwent is Jonathan Jones, who was recently appointed Head of Recruitment and Training for Circuit of Wales. Jones will be working closely with the Youth Ambassadors, with a focus on training and skills development. He says: “Our Youth Ambassadors, who missed out on an era when Blaenau Gwent was a place of thriving industry, are passionate about being at the forefront of its revival. We’re going to be working together closely with youth forums, schools and colleges to further enhance social inclusion in Circuit of Wales.”
One of the Youth Ambassadors is Samantha Woodward, 20, who was formerly the Youth Mayor of Blaenau Gwent. “I’ve been lucky enough to serve Blaenau Gwent before, so to continue doing that with Circuit of Wales is an unmissable opportunity for somebody my age,” she says. “I’ve been to lots of Circuit of Wales exhibitions and meetings, so it’s now up to me and the rest of the Youth Ambassadors to let people who haven’t heard much about the project know what it’s all about.”
Local people across the region have been signing petition forms in support of the project, and Heads of the Valleys Development Company chief executive Michael Carrick says the public support for Circuit of Wales has been widespread. “We have boxes upon boxes of supportive petition forms from residents of the region, not to mention all the emails that have already been sent to the Planning office in Blaina,” says Carrick. “In more ways than one, Circuit of Wales is a project that relies on public support. We’ve continued to emphasise that this is a local project, regardless of the global nature of motor sport. There will be a positive spotlight on Blaenau Gwent, the promise of which is already bringing out the best in everybody. In that sense, our Youth Ambassadors represent the future of the project.”
A new series of community consultations regarding the initial £250m development phase of Circuit of Wales, the automotive centre of excellence proposed for Blaenau Gwent, will be held throughout the region in late April and early May. The company behind the transformational project say they want to make as many people in the region aware of the benefits of Circuit of Wales as possible ahead of the council’s forthcoming planning decision.
The council’s decision on whether or not to give the project the green light will come only weeks after the Wales Audit Office ranked Blaenau Gwent as the least attractive place in the UK for inward investment.
“Our significant capital investment programme directly challenges the notion of Blaenau Gwent being somewhere businesses don’t want to invest,” says Michael Carrick, chief executive of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company. “Our on-site developments will help to bring forward supporting off-site commercial investments in leisure, social and business activity that will be potentially greater and lead to a range of employment activities for the local communities across the region.”
The project team behind Circuit of Wales are already in advanced negotiations with local and global companies with a view to being located on and around the proposed site.
Circuit of Wales recently received a celebrity endorsement in the form of Charley Boorman, whose critically acclaimed documentaries ‘Long Way Down’ and ‘Long Way Round’ saw him and Ewan McGregor travel the world on motorcycles. Boorman tweeted: “Love the idea of [Circuit of Wales]. Looks fantastic. Fingers crossed.”
It has already been a big year for Welsh motor sport, with Circuit of Wales supporter and Powys-born rider Chaz Davies winning both rounds of the World Superbike Championship in Aragon this month. The 2011 Wales Sports Personality of the Year, a member of the BMW Motorrad team, recently said: “The thought of competing at Circuit of Wales is incredibly exciting. For me to race –and hopefully win– at what would essentially be my local track would be a dream.”
The latest Circuit of Wales community consultations will take place at the following locations from 3pm-7pm (unless otherwise stated):
· Gwent Shopping Centre, Tredegar, Monday 29 April;
· Salem Chapel, Blaina, Tuesday 30 April;
· Ebbw Vale Institute, Wednesday 1 May;
· The Met, Abertillery, Thursday 2 May;
· Brynmawr Community Centre (3.45pm-6.30pm), Tuesday 7 May; and
· Llanhilleth Institute, Wednesday 8 May.
The latest round of exhibitions will complement those held in November and December of last year in Rassau, Trefil, Garnlydan, Beaufort and Nantybwch.
A planning decision on Circuit of Wales is envisioned to be made by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council at the end of May/early June. Members of the public can support the project by emailing the council’s planning department (email@example.com), or writing to: Planning Department, Council Offices, High Street, Blaina, NP13 3XD.
Now that the planning application for Circuit of Wales has been submitted, it is vitally important that people show their support for the proposal.
If you feel strongly about the jobs, opportunities and transformational nature of the project, please let Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council know by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, you can write to: Planning Department, Council Offices, High Street, Blaina, NP13 3XD.
A lot has happened since Circuit of Wales last visited the many towns and communities of Blaenau Gwent, which is why we are excited to embark upon another series of community consultations in the region. If you wish to join us for some updates on this groundbreaking project, here are the following dates and venues we will be visiting:
Monday 29 April: Gwent Shopping Centre, Tredegar (3pm – 7pm)
Tuesday 30 April: Salem Chapel, High Street, Blaina (3pm –7pm)
Wednesday 1 May: Ebbw Vale Institute, Ebbw Vale (3pm –7pm)
Thursday 2 May: The Met, Abertillery (3pm–7pm)
Tuesday 7 May: Brynmawr Community Centre, Brynmawr (3.45pm–6.30pm)
Wednesday 8 May: Llanhilleth Institute, Llanhilleth (3pm – 7pm)
Please visit our website for any updates on the consultations, follow us on Twitter or 'like' our Facebook page.
A local man has been put in charge of overseeing recruitment and training for the groundbreaking Circuit of Wales project in Blaenau Gwent. Businessman Jonathan Jones of Ebbw Vale is viewed by many as the ideal candidate for the role because of his experience in global business and his close ties to the local area.
“My role within Circuit of Wales is very clear,” says Jones, a manufacturing and supply chains specialist. “Get jobs to local people, and do it in the correct way. I’m going to be working closely with local schools, colleges and training facilities, which enable us and our partners to outline our requirements and align the training and development programmes to help us recruit from within the local workforce. I couldn’t be more excited, because this is a genuinely transformational project for an area close to my heart and the rest of Wales.”
Jones, currently a resident of Merthyr Tydfil, is also a director of Ebbw Vale Rugby Club and has 18 years of experience in the automotive industry as a senior level contact for Audi and Toyota. He has also worked worldwide with Hewlett-Packard for six years, liaising with the likes of Fujifilm and Sony, during which time he looked after a £300m spend.
It is envisioned that Circuit of Wales will address the issue of widespread unemployment in Blaenau Gwent –a borough still reeling from the closure of the steel industry– through its creation of thousands of new jobs, both skilled and unskilled.
Growing up in Ebbw Vale, Jones attended All Saints Primary and then Bishop Hedley High in nearby Merthyr Tydfil. He also holds an MBA from the University of the West of England. “It’s quite fitting that this project will see me based in Ebbw Vale after years working around Wales, the UK and travelling the world,” says Jones. “The things I’ve learned working with world-leading businesses along the way will be instrumental in making this a project that will benefit the area. I know the standard we need to get to and what has to be done to get local people sustainable jobs with good companies.”
“Jonathan has been an instrumental part of this project becoming a reality,” says Heads of the Valleys Development Company chief executive Michael Carrick. “He’s one of our senior people on the ground, and is a key part of our team. Jonathan and all of our partners are totally committed to ensuring that this development delivers long-term opportunities to local people. We believe he has the right approach, commitment and passion to make this happen.”
Jones will be working very closely with all of the partners on the project. One of those already announced is Alun Griffiths (Contractors) of Abergavenny.
Jones’s business skills have been praised by Ebbw Vale RFC president Mark Powell QC. “Five years ago, the club was in financial trouble and Jonathan stepped in and rescued it with his business and financial acumen. He has created links with sporting organisations and community groups across Blaenau Gwent, as well as forging links with local schools that have enabled children to play rugby.”
“He has made Ebbw Vale RFC financially viable. Since the advent of professional rugby, the club hadn’t been tuned into the community, but Jonathan has made it a marketable entity after many years in the wilderness.”
With planning already submitted to Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, a decision is due in the Spring.
The Heads of the Valleys Development Company has announced that its planning application for permission to build Circuit of Wales, a low carbon automotive centre of excellence, has been submitted to Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council. The application follows months of detailed planning work, numerous meetings with local councillors, business leaders and community consultations.
“Due diligence is vital on such projects,” says Heads of the Valleys Development Company chief executive Michael Carrick. “We’ve made certain that we’ve covered all bases because we are so passionate about making this project work – not just for us as a company, but for the people of Blaenau Gwent. This is a strong application, and a great deal of work has gone into ensuring its meticulousness.”
Last month, the project received the backing of one of motor sport’s most senior figures when head of MotoGP Carmelo Ezpeleta threw his weight behind the project at a Circuit of Wales media event at the Celtic Manor, Newport.
With the recent naming of construction partners for the project – they are FCC Construcción and Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd – planning permission is one of the final hurdles in what could prove to be one of the defining moments of Blaenau Gwent’s post-industrial history.
The Heads of the Valleys Development Company has backed its claims about job sustainability through its acquisition of world-class sports motorcycle manufacturer FTR Moto which, providing Circuit of Wales is given the green light, would be located within the Technology Park of the development.
“The circuit will provide sustainable jobs across a broad number of sectors,” says Carrick of the automotive complex that, besides the racing element, will also boast hotel and leisure facilities. “We’re creating a brand new, vibrant environment for the region, while at the same time telling the rest of the world to look at all the great things that are happening in Wales.”
A second round of community consultations took place at the end of 2012, giving the community a chance to see the redesigned plans for the development. These changes were made following feedback from the first round of consultations in August and September of last year.
“It was heartening to see that so many people made the effort to come out to our exhibitions,” Carrick says. “We are determined to keep people fully up to speed on the development as things progress and will continue being open and transparent with the community on all aspects of the project. The feedback received so far from the community has been extremely positive and people are genuinely excited by the opportunities that could come their way.”
Concerns raised by local people at the consultations mostly focused on the issue of noise, given the automotive nature of the project and the valleys setting. Measures taken to ensure these concerns were allayed included a redesign of the development that reduces the number of Motocross circuits from two to one, and relocating that circuit further away from residential properties to ensure those living nearby won’t be affected by noise.
It is envisaged a decision will be made by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s planning committee around May 2013.
The Heads of the Valleys Development Company is pleased to announce that the Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council is in the process of reviewing its planning application for Circuit of Wales. We will provide you with updates when the application is validated. More news will follow shortly, along with information about the next series of community consultations.
The group behind the proposed Circuit of Wales motor sport venue near Ebbw Vale has announced the second phase of community consultations in the Blaenau Gwent region. After an initial series of exhibitions throughout August and early September were judged to be “a resounding success”, the Heads of the Valleys Development Company is eager to re-engage with the local people of Blaenau Gwent.
“Our aim in the previous round of consultations was firstly to explain to local people in the towns and villages of Blaenau Gwent what exactly Circuit of Wales is,” says Michael Carrick, chief executive of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company. “Secondly, it was an opportunity for open dialogue — to discover what their opinions were of the project. As people who have lived in the valleys their whole lives, to hear what they thought Circuit of Wales could bring to the area was very insightful. We feel it was a resounding success.”
The group says that the reasoning behind a second set of exhibitions is to offer residents of Blaenau Gwent further insight into Circuit of Wales. “The nature of projects of this scale is that there are ongoing developments and things that maybe we weren’t able to disclose in the previous exhibitions,” says Carrick. “This time around, we will be able answer certain questions more thoroughly because of the advanced stage of development in which we find ourselves.”
On show will be information on the appointed construction partners and, importantly, more detail on jobs and training scheme accessibility.
One of the noteworthy developments in this “advanced stage” is the Heads of the Valleys Development Company’s acquisition of FTR Moto, a well-respected racing motorcycle manufacturer. “We want to reassure people that Circuit of Wales isn’t just a fanciful notion,” says Chris Herring, now a director of both the Heads of the Valleys Development Company and FTR Moto. “Years of hard work and design have already gone into making sure it becomes a reality.”
A veteran of the motor sport industry, Herring’s knowledge of the industry is a vital component of Circuit of Wales. As such, he appreciates the enthusiasm for motor sport inherent in Blaenau Gwent. “The passion of many of the local people who attended the previous consultations is infectious,” he admits. “They really know their stuff, and it just reinforces the desire to have an elite motor sport venue in Blaenau Gwent. Even those who don’t know the difference between MotoGP and Motocross can appreciate that Circuit of Wales will be a great thing for the area.”
There will be a member of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company at each of the upcoming community consultations, which will take place at the following locations at 4pm-7pm: Monday 26 November: Trefil Rugby Club, Trefil. Tuesday 27 November: Rassau Community Hall. Thursday 29 November: Nantybwch OAP Centre, Nantybwch. Friday 30 November: Beaufort Theatre, Beaufort. Tuesday 4 December: Garnlydan OAP Centre, Garnlydan.
The Heads of the Valleys Development Company has named the construction team that will deliver the ground-breaking Circuit of Wales motor sport development near Ebbw Vale. The world-renowned FCC Construcción will build the £250m circuit in joint venture with local construction firm Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd of Abergavenny.
Michael Carrick, chief executive of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, has hailed the selection a “perfect complement of international expertise and local knowledge.”
FCC Construcción is focused in the UK infrastructure market – its £276m state-of-the-art South West Acute Hospital in Northern Ireland opened last June. The company is also widely respected for its innovative work on such diverse projects as the Madrid-Barajas Airport –one of the busiest airports in the world– and the Circuit of Jerez in Andalusia, Spain. The latter is a particularly popular circuit amongst racing fans and riders alike, and FCC Construcción’s portfolio suggests that something unique will be coming to South Wales.
Rafael Foulquie, UK Managing Director for FCC Construcción, states: “This project signifies a remarkable milestone within the company’s international development, and reinforces our vision of the UK as our main target. It’s a great opportunity for FCC to get established in Wales, promote local employment and work closely with local communities.”
Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd is a prominent regional civil engineering contractor that has provided construction services in Blaenau Gwent and throughout the South Wales Valleys for over 40 years. As well as constructing the strategically important A465 Section 4 Dualling Scheme, the company also delivered the civil engineering works on the 2010 Ryder Cup golf course in Newport, and the award-winning reopening of the Ebbw Valley Railway Line.
“As a local Welsh company, it is a huge honour for Griffiths to be involved in the delivery of the Circuit of Wales,” says Executive Director Martyn Evans. “This is the sort of project that will change lives in Blaenau Gwent, as well as people’s perception of the area. We’re delighted to be a part of it.”
“The people of Wales, and Blaenau Gwent in particular, should be really excited about what will be built,” says Michael Carrick. “Having seen the work that our construction partners have done in the past, I’ve no doubt that the Circuit of Wales will be a diamond in the British sporting landscape.”
“We chose these companies because of their vast experience, global renown and because of the superb team they can put in place. They fully grasp the Circuit of Wales concept and how to deliver it and share our vision and passion for making it happen.”
There is a contractual agreement between the Heads of the Valleys Development Company and the construction partners that a significant number of the building jobs will go to local workers. This could prove to be a much-needed boost in south Wales where unemployment levels are high.
In accordance with the Heads of the Valleys Development Company’s low carbon prioritisation for the Circuit of Wales, along with its commitment to a local workforce, one of FCC Construcción’s main tenets is ‘responsible construction’. Like Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd, it emphasises sustainability through taking care of the community and the environment – something the Heads of the Valleys Development Company has placed at the top of its agenda since the Circuit of Wales’ inception.
An application for planning will be delivered in November.
It has acquired the UK-based FTR Moto, further displaying its intent to make Wales one of Europe’s premier motor sport locations.
Launched in 2009, FTR Moto was quick to taste Grand Prix success – victory came less than a year after its inception when it won its first World Championship race. Its motorcycles feature in all three classes of Grand Prix motorcycle racing – MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.
Chris Herring, from the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, said: “The new partnership with FTR Moto represents a significant move for Circuit of Wales. It's a highly successful British engineering firm, which is synonymous with high performance motor sport. We're already receiving positive enquiries from various factions of the motor sport world for FTR Moto's services.”
The first in a series of community consultations across Blaenau Gwent have been held by the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, the organisation behind the proposed Circuit of Wales motor sport project in Rassau, near Ebbw Vale.
The Heads of the Valleys Development Company has reported over 400 visitors attended the public exhibitions, giving people an opportunity to voice their opinions, and it is very pleased with the feedback received from members of the Blaenau Gwent public, compiled over a two-week period of consultations in the region.
The Circuit of Wales represents the biggest investment in the UK’s automotive sector in 50 years and is predicted to bring thousands of new jobs and £50 million a year to the Welsh economy.
The consultation process enabled not only the Circuit of Wales to educate the public about its objectives, but for local visitors to offer their insights into the intricacies of Blaenau Gwent to the project team.
Consultations started up in Rassau and continued as far south as Abertillery, taking in such locations as Blaina, Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale, Tredegar and Beaufort.
Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, much of it focusing on the benefits of the creation of thousands of jobs in the Blaenau Gwent area. The sense that this is a much-needed venture in the region was palpable from comments given to the Circuit of Wales team.
One comment from the feedback forms visitors were asked to fill out said: “It would be a fantastic addition to [Blaenau Gwent], creating jobs in a deprived area, improving the community and social development.” Another read: “The project is something that would bring the borough into the 21st century and give hope to our young people.”
Many of the comments centred on the feeling that the Circuit of Wales would bring a renewed hope to the Valleys, including this one from a visitor in Beaufort: “This project could give back a sense of purpose to much of the community which has only experienced decline and disappointment in recent years.”
While the overall response of the public was undeniably in favour of the project going ahead – the company will be applying for planning permission in late September or early October – there were some concerned voices among the supporters.
These concerns pertained mainly to noise levels from the proposed site and the environmental impact it would have - especially with it being a motor sport-based centre. One visitor from Rassau commented that, while the project would be great for the area, she was concerned about noise.
Michael Carrick, Chief Executive of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, said of these concerns: “We are carrying out these public exhibitions so the public can ask us any questions they may have. Noise is something we are extremely confident will not be an issue, as we will be able to mitigate it via the way the circuit is designed, with the planting of trees and the utilisation of the natural landscape.”
Some also commented that they thought the Circuit of Wales sounded too good to be true, and that business ventures promised to the area in the past had failed to materialise. In light of such statements, Carrick said: “These discussions around the Circuit of Wales have gone on for three to four years with investment partners, the organisations behind individual international races, the local authority and the Welsh government. We are very confident that everything is in place, which is why we are pushing ahead with our planning application at this time.”
While the two weeks of exhibitions signalled the end of this initial period of community consultations, the Circuit of Wales team will continue to hold discussions with the public and provide them with further updates on the project.
Dates now confirmed for Community Engagement to begin in Blaenau Gwent. Public exhibitions will commence on 20 Aug, and begin at Rassau Community Hall. 20 Aug.