CIRCUIT OF WALES PRESENTS FRESH FUNDING PROPOSAL
Revised financial plan submitted that could clear development to begin this year
Circuit of Wales bosses have submitted a new funding proposal to the Welsh Government that could lead to construction of the circuit starting later this year.
The project, first unveiled in 2011, secured permission to purchase land in Ebbw Vale in the Blaenau Gwent county in November 2015, but received a major setback last April when the Welsh Government confirmed it would not underwrite construction.
Circuit of Wales had signed a five-year deal to host the British Motogp round between 2015 and 2019, but the event is currently being held at Silverstone.
In July 2016, Welsh Assembly Member and Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates clarified that for the Welsh government to consider helping fund the project, Circuit of Wales needed to secure private sector funding for 50 per cent of the project, taking on 50 per cent of the risk.
In a statement released last Wednesday, Skates said that the Heads of the Valleys Development Company – which is responsible for building the circuit – had submitted a new deal that “includes the names of the private investors and which they assert meets the criteria I set out in July”.
Skates had “challenged the Circuit of Wales team to make faster progress with the proposals and to provide me with the names of private sector investors to the project within two weeks” late last month, “mindful of the time that had passed”.
The Welsh Government will now conduct due diligence and evaluate the new proposal before it gives the circuit the green light.
Skates’ statement continued: “The due diligence exercise will include rigorous value for money testing and a Fit and Proper Person assessment of the directors. 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.”
The project initially received £2m as a grant from the Welsh Government, with subsequent efforts to secure additional contributions turned down. The Circuit of Wales also issued a statement last week confirming that its new proposal meets the criteria set out by the Welsh Government.
“The submission, developed with his officials over the past seven months, complies with [Skates’] stated criteria and demonstrates private sector funding support for the project,” the statement read in part.
“This evidence has been provided to the Cabinet Secretary to support the Welsh Government guarantee for a minority of the funding for the project.
“The guarantee would be for less than 50 per cent of the £425m Circuit of Wales scheme, a development that will be entirely funded by private investors in the project.
“We are now preparing to move to the confirmatory due diligence and final documentation process with the Welsh Government and our partners.
“We are working to a proactive timeline and look forward to beginning construction by the spring of this year, bringing to life our vision of a world-class hub for motorsport, leisure, tourism and innovation, which will be transformational for the local community, generating employment opportunities; and helping to both stimulate and diversify the Welsh economy.”