South East Wales

Inquiry into £325m Circuit of Wales begins

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Media captionThe eight-day hearing is examining the request to take over common land

A public inquiry into plans to build a £325m motor racing circuit in the south Wales valleys has started.

The eight-day hearing in Ebbw Vale is examining the request to take over 250 hectares (600 acres) of common land.

Backers, including Blaenau Gwent council, have offered around 320 hectares (800 acres) replacement land.

The inquiry has heard conflicting accounts from experts over claims the circuit would damage habitats and plant life by building on the common land.

Natural Resources Wales said it was "difficult to conclude" that the replacement land was of equal value, but it was not opposing the development overall.

But an ecology report presented by the developers said there would be a "net gain" in biodiversity because the plans included work to enhance other habitats nearby - which the Gwent wildlife trust argued against.

The Planning Inspectorate for Wales will make a recommendation after the inquiry in Ebbw vale, before Welsh government ministers have the final say on whether the plans can go ahead.

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Media captionThe Circuit of Wales inquiry will last eight days

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