“Circuit of Wales has proved a bit controversial” ”
Apositive breakthrough for once. Or is it?
Last week, as you can read on page 10, the Heads of the Valleys Development Company submitted a proposal which met with the terms of the Welsh Government for supporting the Circuit of Wales project. In simple terms, it reckons it has the amount of investment the Welsh Government has asked for to get it involved in attributing to the circuit’s construction.
That, with any other story, may lead you to believe that a Circuit of Wales is going to be under construction in the ‘near’ future. But this is the Circuit of Wales and somehow it never feels that simple.
The project, which was unveiled back in 2011, can politely be described as a bit controversial. On numerous occasions the building of the circuit has been put back thanks to planning, funding and other issues. The initial date the track was supposed to be built by was 2015/16. And we still don’t have a track.
In August 2014 the circuit announced a five-year deal for Motogp, but that has been deferred to Silverstone. Then in January 2015 a public inquiry was called by the Welsh Planning Inspectorate to discuss the request of the circuit to deregister the land to build on.
The final couple of major dates on the timeline are April and July 2016. In April, the Welsh Government confirmed it would not underwrite the project and in July it confirmed that The Circuit of Wales, through its private backers, needed to underwrite at least 50 per cent of the risk for the venue and provide at least 50 per cent of the funding.
Now, we have some good news. But what does it actually mean? Here goes.
The Circuit’s new proposal meets the criteria set out by the government. Now, the government will undertake due diligence into the project. What does that mean?
Here’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates to tell you: “The due diligence exercise will include rigorous value for money testing and a Fit and Proper Person assessment of the directors,” he said in a statement. “It will also assess deliverability and the long term sustainability of the proposal. We will seek clarity on the types and number of jobs directly and indirectly resulting from the project; how those job numbers compare to the initially reported figure of 6,000, as well as the likely number of jobs that would be filled by local people.”
So, the question you’ll no doubt have is: Is this going to go ahead?
There’s no categorical answer to that. But this is the first piece of positive news since the circuit was forced to go back to the drawing board with its funding model.
It’s been a long and difficult journey. But is the circuit close to actually starting? As soon as the due diligence is done, we’ll finally have answers.