The Circuit of Wales, a proposed race track near Ebbw Vale which would host a UK round of the Moto GP championship and bring countless jobs to one of the poorest regions in Wales and political hot potato for the Welsh Government.
What’s this got to do with aviation you ask? A lot actually so bear with me.
The Circuit of Wales is to be a privately built “automotive centre of excellence” with not just the circuit but business parks and other entertainment facilities. It’s planned to be a year round venue hosting not just major motor-sport events but smaller meets and events too.
It’s estimated it could provide upwards of 5000 jobs in an area where unemployment is one of the highest in Wales, if not the UK and a major boost to the local economy.
Circuit of Wales will also play host to the British round of the Moto GP World Series, this is the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, like F1 is to car racing. It has approximately. It gets an average of 115,000 fans attending each race meet and whilst many will of course be from the UK, a large portion will travel in from across the world and with Cardiff Airport being the closest port of entry, the potential for a boost in traffic and passenger numbers is massive.
This is not just for one weekend though, motor-sport is truly international, even at the lower levels so with multiple events across the year the boost in passenger numbers using Cardiff Airport could be significant.
It’s not just people though. The bikes and the equipment all has to get there somehow and that means cargo! Cardiff Airport definitely has the capacity for major events, this was proven by the outstanding success of the NATO meeting at Celtic Manor.
Then of course there are the private arrivals. With the newly re-opened Cardiff Heliport likely to be a favoured destination for the small armada of helicopters that attend these events.
There have been a few setbacks lately however, despite overwhelming support for the circuit and the overcoming of planning objections (largely by those trying to save the “unused” common land) it’s come down to finances.
The Welsh Government, despite owning Cardiff Airport and planning to make the Circuit of Wales the centre of the Automotive Enterprise Zone have so far refused to underwrite some of the cost of the circuit, around 50% in total.
More private investors have been found however and the figure that the Welsh Government has now been asked to underwrite is much less so as a result less of risk to the public purse, but the wheels of the “we must oppose everything” are turning strongly in this matter.
The circuit has strong support, not just in Ebbw Vale, but across Wales. Given the massive economic boost and jobs it will bring to an area decimated by the collapse of the Coal Industry along with wider economic benefits including to Welsh Government owned Cardiff Airport it is a project that simply must happen.
It’s time for Welsh Assembly Members to put the infighting behind them and back a project that not only puts Wales front and centre onto the global motor-sport stage, but can make a real difference across Wales.