JAMES “UK circuits are facing an uphill battle”
The tale of Lydden Hill’s current struggles, as you can read in Motorsport News’s special feature on page 26, are a grim marker for motor racing in this country. There are lots of stories about motor racing circuits struggling with noise problems. It’s happened at virtually every track you can think of in the United Kingdom – even at the home of the British Grand Prix, Silverstone. For the motor sport fan, it is perplexing. These issues have only really come to light over the last 15 years. Before that, people who moved close to a motor racing circuit expected noise every other Sunday.
That is the nature of what happens at a motor racing circuit and if a home owner hadn’t done their due diligence before moving in to a new abode well, that was their problem.
But there is a change in public attitudes these days. Everyone seemingly has a right to complain, but the worrying thing is that councils and authorities are giving these people oxygen and are giving traction to complaints.
I recently heard a story from someone high up in the British Automobile Racing Club, which has been at the heart of several of these fights. A resident had complained about the noise emanating from the Pembrey circuit in South Wales. The council took it very seriously, and sent out a noise inspector to take readings from the garden of the affected property.
When the council official returned to check the readings from the monitor, he was unable to get an accurate reading because the sound of the babbling brook at the bottom of their garden was too loud. And I am not joking.
Lydden Hill is a real gem in the motor racing landscape, and the work the venue and its organisers have done to protect and promote racing, and in particular rallycross, in this country has been vital. For them now to have to battle red tape is infuriating.
Look at the struggle Wimbledon Stadium is facing too: while that is nothing to do with noise, it is yet another troubling situation. Motor racing doesn’t seem to feature on any council’s agenda as a valuable asset to the community and that is an attitude that needs to change. A circuit, and the associated events it hosts, brings in finance to a local area. Motor racing is an asset that regional authories need to treasure, rather than seeking to slap it down at any opportunity. How many more blows can motorsport take?
THE VOICE OF NATIONAL RACING