The Circuit of Wales was dealt a significant setback on Wednesday, after the Welsh Economy Minister refused to offer a 100% guarantee for the £357 million development project.
Without the guarantee, the future of the project is now uncertain, with doubts over the willingness of Aviva, a British insurance company, to continue with backing for the project.
After a long period of preparation, which included a Public Enquiry on the transfer of public lands, work was set to start on the circuit, set just outside Ebbw Vale in South Wales. Work had already started to get the site of the circuit ready to start construction.
The final piece of the puzzle had been secured several weeks ago, in the form of financial backing from Aviva. However, the Heads of The Valley Development Company had asked the Welsh Government to underwrite 100% of the investment in the project, with reports in the regional newspaper South Wales Argus suggesting that such demands had come from Aviva.
The Circuit of Wales is edging ever closer to becoming a reality. BBC Wales is reporting that UK insurance giant Aviva will be backing the Circuit of Wales project, and providing funds to allow building work on the track near Ebbw Vale in South Wales to start.
Construction will take some time, however, and Silverstone will continue to host the British round of MotoGP for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the race only moving to the Circuit of Wales from 2018 onwards.
The news that Aviva is to provide financial backing for the Circuit of Wales still leaves many questions unanswered. It is not clear from the reports by BBC Wales exactly how much money Aviva will be putting into the track.
The circuit needs £300 million in private investment, on top of roughly £30 million in public funding in the form of loans. Whether Aviva will be providing the full £300 million for the Circuit of Wales, or sufficient seed money for building work to start is unclear.
The proposed Circuit of Wales has cleared the final planning hurdle left standing between it and the start of construction.
After an eight-day public inquiry, the decision was taken to approve the deregistering of common land needed for construction of the site. That clears the way for construction work to start once financing is in place.
The request to deregister common land was approved on the basis of extra land – 320 hectares, or some 800 acres – being provided to replace the deregistered land.
The Planning Inspector charged with examining the proposal judged that the overall effect of the land swap would benefit the nature conservation efforts in the area.
Almost four years ago, we reported on Ducati opening a new assembly plant in Thailand. The move, which peeved Ducati’s factory workers, would see bikes destined for the Southeast Asian market assembled in the Thai plant, thus side-stepping many of the region’s aggressive tariffs on motorcycles. Nearing the end of 2014 now, and our Bothan Spies report that the Ducati Scrambler models will be the first motorcycles assembled in Ducati’s Thai plant that will then be shipped to the world market — a move that comes right after Ducati reached a new contract with its workers and unions, which sees the factory employees working fewer hours at higher wages.
Previously set to host Formula One in 2012 and MotoGP in 2013, the Circuit of the Americas promises to bring more premier motorsport racing to the United States of America. However, news coming out of Austin, Texas is that construction of the new GP-quality circuit has been halted because a contract between Formula One and Circuit of the Americas has not yet been conveyed to the race track according to the parties’ previously agreed upon timetable.
While it is not clear why the contract from Formula One has not been delivered to organizers of the Circuit of the Americas, the news that the construction at the circuit’s location, with its over 300 construction workers, has been halted could mean delays in having the venue ready for the 2012 Formula One season, which in turn could cause delays with MotoGP’s plans to run at the track a year after the premier car racing series. The Circuit of the Americas organizers say construction on the facility would resume once delivery of the Formula One Grand Prix race contract occurs.