Wales

Circuit of Wales in Ebbw Vale wins Asian finance pledge

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Media captionMichael Carrick said Ebbw Vale was the perfect place for industry and motor sports fans

The man behind plans for the Circuit of Wales motor sport track in Blaenau Gwent says he already has £120m conditionally committed to the project.

Two thirds of the private money needed is committed, mainly from Asian and American financial institutions.

It is conditional on the circuit in Ebbw Vale passing outstanding planning hurdles.

Michael Carrick said he had "positive support" from the local council and community.

He has set a £200m private finance target to get the project off the ground, with the rest of the money expected to come from Welsh government support and local authorities.

The speed of the development of the Circuit of Wales has hardly set pulses racing.

It is more than three years since plans for the £325m motor racing track at Ebbw Vale were unveiled and it has been a stop-start affair.

Now a public inquiry is to open on Tuesday into the latest hurdle - the de-registering of common land which is part of the development site.

Mr Carrick, chief executive of the Circuit of Wales, told BBC Wales it had already taken "months and months and millions of pounds" to address concerns about taking out 250 hectares (600 acres) of common land and replacing it with 310

He said the results of the inquiry might take several months but environmental sensitivities had to be considered.hectares of land.

Bringing thousands of bike fans for motor sport events like the MotoGP, the circuit aims to sustain work for 6,000 people and boost the economy of Blaenau Gwent, which is traditionally one of the poorest areas in Wales.

Work was supposed to have started last month. But despite outline planning permission being granted nearly two years ago, the development has faced a series of delays caused by funding issues and planning negotiations.

Although winning the rights to host the MotoGP for potentially up to a decade, the circuit has had to negotiate for Silverstone to step in until 2017 because the track has not been built.

But Mr Carrick said it would be an anchor event to pull in other events all year round, including festivals and concerts.

An automotive industry technology cluster - comparable to one at Silverstone - would be a major part of jobs created at the site and he said Ebbw Vale was a "perfect place".

He said the finance arrangements would be there so they could do it themselves as there "was no point building a 3km roundabout on the site of a Welsh hill".

"We need £200m of private capital coming to this project - that's the minimum," said Mr Carrick.

"When we've raised that and we've satisfied all of the conditions... and all that's attached to what's happening here next... then we'll go ahead and build."

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