The announcement by the Circuit of Wales developers that they intend to set up an ecological trust to fund environmental improvements around the development site at Ebbw Vale is irrelevant.
The society is to appear at the public inquiry on Thursday [19 March] in opposition to the developers’ proposals for exchange of common land.
The inquiry is restricted to considering the relative merits of the land offered in exchange for the square mile of common to be taken.
We shall argue that the seven sites which are offered in exchange are grossly inferior. The existing common is open to walkers and horse-riders who have the right to walk and ride over every part of it. The exchange land is in small, scattered parcels, one of them, Wentwood Forest, 30 miles away.
While much of the exchange land is already open to walkers, and therefore offers nothing new for them, it is not possible to ride on much of it, and so horse-riders definitely lose out. It is not a fair exchange.
The proposal for an environmental trust does nothing to improve this situation, and it is the common-land exchange matter on which the inspector has to rule.
If the Circuit of Wales had not opted to use common land in the first place, the development could have been completed by now. It just goes to show that you meddle with commons at your peril.