Industrial development on South Wales common

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We have slated plans by the Heads of the Valley Development Company Ltd to develop common land at Rassau, Blaenau Gwent, ahead of the prospective Circuit of Wales motor-racing development. The company has applied to the Welsh ministers for consent to carry out major works on the common.

If the Circuit of Wales development is to go ahead, the company will need the ministers’ consent to deregister about 340 hectares of common land and to give suitable land in exchange. The company has not yet submitted this application and so the future of the motorsports development remains uncertain.

But regardless of this, the company is now seeking consent for buildings, haul roads, car-parking, trenches and drains, stockpiles of excavated material and a mass of fencing on 250 hectares of the common in connection with the prospective motorsports development. The company claims that if that does not go ahead it can remove the works and restore the common.

We have objected most strongly to this industrial development on a substantial area of common land. Although the company claims the works are temporary, we do not believe that it can restore the common to its former state should the Circuit of Wales not go ahead.

The company has applied for these works under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, but the Planning Inspectorate advises that this section is intended to allow works which are ‘for the management, improvement or protection of the common’ – which is not what the current works are for. We consider that it is totally inappropriate to permit industrial development on common land.

The mass of works would be an eyesore and an ugly intrusion on land over which the public has the right to walk and ride, and which is on the borders of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

We have urged ministers to refuse consent for these works; they should be put on hold unless and until the company obtains consent to deregister the common and to provide suitable land in exchange. This application is premature and highly damaging.

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