Outline planning permission has been granted for a new race circuit in South Wales, which could one day host a round of MotoGP.
The decision by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council will see work start on construction of the Circuit of Wales in Ebbw Vale later this year, with a completion date of 2015/16.
Plans for the £280 million development include a 3.5 mile long circuit as well as Motocross and karting tracks, alongside a hotel and both commercial and retail complexes.
A technology park will become what the group behind the plans terms 'a hub for research and development companies that are seeking to push the boundaries in environmental technology and energy solutions', while a race academy will also be put in place to help nurture young talent.
A total of 3,000 new jobs will be created during the construction phase, with between 4,000 and 6,000 new jobs once the development is complete. It is hoped that the circuit will eventually generate £50m per annum for the UK economy.
“I'd like to acknowledge the tremendous support of the local community of Blaenau Gwent and the Welsh Government,” Michael Carrick, Chief Executive of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company Ltd said. “We promise to deliver a truly innovative and sustainable business, helping to deliver long-term economic and social benefits for the region.
“It is a hugely important development, not just for the regeneration of Blaenau Gwent but also for the UK economy, and will enable significant private capital to be mobilised. This is a showcase for a new type of investment model, a partnership between private investment and government to deliver a transformational business to the region.”
Alongside the likes of the World Touring Car Championship, the new circuit has long been linked with a possible MotoGP race, with Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta having held talks with the people behind the plans and also visited the site of the proposed development earlier this year.
“It's fantastic,” he said of the proposals. “I think this is a very important programme for MotoGP and for motor sport in general. It is good for the area and good for the community, and the team behind it will have whatever help they need from us. We have already been working with them and we will continue to do so.”