Circuit-of-Wales

The £425m Circuit of Wales project looks set to go ahead after forging an agreement with global action sports brand Extreme Sports.

Under the tie-up the project will see the 3.5-mile long international-standard circuit constructed as part of a multi-sports leisure and entertainment venue on a 330-acre site at Ebbw Vale in south Wales.

The Circuit of Wales scheme was first announced in late 2011, with construction expected to start in 2013 and completion set for 2015. A contract was agreed with organisers of Moto GP, the top international motorcycle series, to host the British round at the circuit from 2015 to 2019.

Developers indicated that the circuit and its surrounding technology park would bring 6,000 jobs to a local economy struggling following the loss of the steel industry at Ebbw Vale. Reborn British sports car maker TVR agreed plans to locate its new production facility at the site.

However problems over permissions and particularly funding persisted and with construction still to begin in Wales the 2015 and 2016 Moto GP events were held at Silverstone.

Funding controversy

In April 2016 the Welsh Government refused the circuit’s request for a 100 per cent guarantee of the construction cost. Welsh Economy Minister Edwina Hart stated that there was “a significant question around the viability of the project,” with several motorsport industry figures questioning the project’s claims.

Circuit of Wales Extreme
The Extreme tie-up adds many more attractions to the Circuit of Wales site.

These concerns now seem to have been overcome with the new agreement which promoters are dubbing the largest privately-funded-infrastructure project in Wales and “the most significant capital investment program in automotive, motorsport and extreme sport infrastructure in the UK within the last 50 years.”

Under the Extreme Sports banner the site will now include a collection of indoor and outdoor action and adventure sports, leisure facilities, a variety of food outlets, retail outlets and themed accommodation.

Two hotels in plan

Planned facilities include mountain bike trails, a BMX Park, indoor ski slopes, trampolining, a skate park, virtual reality zone, surfing and live music stages, alongside two new hotels and a campsite.

The venue will also gain major publicity through the Extreme Sports TV channel that broadcasts to 68 countries globally, established social media channels, more than 100 global ambassadors in the sporting arena and a presence the brand has at more than 80 annual events. In total Extreme claims to reach more than 100 million people across the globe every month.

As a result the Circuit of Wales venue says it will attract 750,000 visitors and inject an estimated £50m into the Welsh economy each year. Coming at a time when district of north Wales have seen great success in creating adventure sports facilities, the project expects to tap into the £4bn UK entertainment and leisure sector.

According to Circuit of Wales CEO Martin Whitaker the partnership with Extreme underlines the unique range of activities, facilities and services the Circuit’s enterprise cluster will offer Wales and the UK.

“The Circuit aims to provide much more than a racing facility; it will be a 365-day leisure and business destination,” Whitaker says.

Circuit of Wales plan
After much controversy the Circuit of Wales now appears firmly on track.
Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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