MAJOR INVESTMENT ANNOUNCED FOR A NEW LOW CARBON AUTOMOTIVE COMPLEX
August 15 2012.


Plans have been unveiled for a new £250m partnership in south Wales that would represent the greatest investment in automotive and motor sports infrastructure in the UK for the last 50 years.

The Circuit of Wales, spanning 830 acres, will be located in Ebbw Vale in Blaenau Gwent. It will focus on the low carbon automotive industry and international motor sports and will be delivered by The Heads of the Valleys Development Company.

A world class 3.5-mile circuit will be created and built on unique topography. Developed in line with FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme) standards, it will be designed to host international motor sports events such as MotoGP, World Superbikes, World Motocross and Touring Car.

As well as the performance circuit, the project will include investment in industrial, commercial and leisure developments. It will also provide opportunities for the growth of advanced engineering, education, safety in motor sports and green transport-related businesses. The main circuit will be accompanied by an international kart track and motocross tracks.

Importantly, the development will play a major role in finding the next generation of motor sport stars: a leading motor sport race academy will be created to develop young British and European elite riders and drivers. It is envisaged a planning application will be submitted to Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council in late September / early October this year.

Michael Carrick, Chief Executive of The Heads of the Valleys Development Company, is the Director in charge of delivering the project. The founder of Aventa Capital Partners, which focuses on infrastructure investments, Carrick was previously Global Head of Infrastructure Investments at Merrill Lynch.

He says: "This is a major private sector-originated regeneration project in partnership with the local authority and the Welsh Government which will create significant job opportunities in a deprived part of the UK. We are currently in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders on our plans to create world class infrastructure and facilities that will allow us to attract and retain high-quality businesses and operate international motor sports events.

"This exciting project will create new capacity and deliver high-quality automotive infrastructure in the UK whilst providing a major regeneration boost that will bring lasting benefits to the regional and wider Welsh economy.

"A key element in our strategy to develop the automotive cluster was to find the right location and site profile. We believe that we have identified an outstanding site in Ebbw Vale: it is on the boundary of a national park, close to major population centres, and the topography will allow us to create a unique, exciting, safe and stunning environment, which will offer an outstanding experience for competitors and spectators.

"Our discussions to date have been extremely positive, and we welcome the feedback on our proposals. We do hope to finalise our detailed plans during this year and commence work on the development early next year with a view to being operational in 2015."

The proposed motor sport project has already received support from key automotive figures. Colin Hilton, the Motor Sports Association Chief Executive, says: "The Motor Sports Association (UK governing body for four-wheel motor sport) has a long and successful history with the sport in Wales, and Wales Rally GB has brought in excess of £10m a year to the Welsh economy since 2001. There is no doubt that the proposed motor sport complex project could create great employment opportunities as well as increasing tourism, sport and education opportunities in the local and surrounding areas. As a result, the MSA welcomes the initiative and will offer any assistance possible to the parties involved."

Professor Garel Rhys, Chairman of the Welsh Automotive Forum, says: "This is an exciting opportunity and will place Wales at the forefront of automotive innovation and sustainable growth - as well as providing the access to an international track capable of hosting world class events. The term 'world class' is often wrongly used, but this project in all its various aspects - infrastructure, accommodation, events, and research and development - is most certainly worthy of such status. The knock-on effects will be profound and show that Wales can still attract big ticket projects."

The development will provide significant sustainable local employment opportunities in south Wales and it is anticipated that 3000 new jobs will be created during the construction phase, with an additional 6,000 new jobs once the development is complete.

The economic and regeneration benefits are expected to generate over £50m per annum to Wales with the proposal also set to considerably boost tourism in the area.