Construction of the Circuit of Wales could soon begin after the project cleared its 'final planning hurdle'.
The £315 million development - which holds the rights for the British MotoGP round - has been significantly delayed by a Public Inquiry to de-register common land located within the planned motorsport complex, in Ebbw Vale.
But the Welsh government has now granted 'final approval' to de-register, helped by the suitability of replacement common land. Building work will commence following the end of the judicial review period, and once construction and finance contracts have been finalised.
Coinciding with the planning approval, the Heads of the Valleys Development Company (HOTVDC) revealed that the required financing package is in place to support the project and that an exclusivity contract is in place with the financial backers, who are in the process of completing due diligence.
Once this have been completed, the supporters of the project will be publicly announced and detailed construction timelines revealed.
HOTVDC also announced the appointment of former Bahrain International Circuit CEO Martin Whitaker as the new Circuit of Wales CEO. Whitaker will be charged with managing the transformation of 830 acres of Blaenau Gwent into an international motorsport circuit, technology park and training facility.
Whitaker's appointment will allow Michael Carrick to focus on his role as CEO of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, specifically managing the financial aspects of the project whilst remaining an active board member for the Circuit of Wales.
“Martin's track record speaks for itself as he is one of the few men operating at the top level of international motorsport whose experience covers almost every facet of the sport,” Carrick said.
“Martin has managed a modern Formula 1 venue at the Bahrain International Circuit, worked for both the sport's governing body, the Federation Internationale de l'Autombile (FIA), and its commercial rights holder, plus the UK's governing body - the RAC Motor Sports Association. Additionally, he has led a major motor manufacturer's competition department and one of the world's most celebrated racing series.
“The Circuit of Wales is already gaining experience and knowledge through our role as promoter of the British MotoGP. As we now focus our attentions on the build phase of the project, Martin's guidance and experience will be invaluable to realising its potential as a catalyst for investment in the local economy and across the motorsport industry in Britain.”
The Circuit of Wales will continue to use Silverstone as venue for the 2016 British MotoGP, but - construction permitting - the sport could be set for a Welsh debut in 2017.
This year's race was the first of a five-year deal between the CoW and Dorna, with the option for a further five-year extension.