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We are distressed that Carl Sargeant, the Minister for Housing and Regeneration in the Welsh Government, has ruled that the application for the ‘Circuit of Wales’ motor-racing centre will not be called in, but left for Blaenau Gwent Council to determine as it sees fit.
The council has already granted outline consent to the Heads of the Valleys Development Company’s application last month.
We were deeply disappointed when, a fortnight ago, the environmental body Natural Resources Wales unexpectedly withdrew its request for a call-in. We are asking questions about this under the Freedom of Information Act.
We were among the objectors who wrote to the minister, urging him to call the application in because of its national significance. We consider the application will contravene national planning policies as set out in Planning Policy Wales, regarding national parks, sustainability and common land.
Other objectors include the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, the Gwent and Brecknock Wildlife Trust, the Brecon Beacons Park Society and, until recently, Natural Resources Wales.
Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘The minister’s refusal to call this in and the U-turn by Natural Resources Wales are a major blow to us. However, there is still a long way to go. The development would have a devastating effect on registered common land and the proposal cannot go ahead until suitable exchange-land has been provided and approved by the Welsh Government. That’s a tall order.’