The Circuit of Wales will be “more than just a racetrack” and will include Wales’ largest campsite, restaurants and a venue for music concerts, the project’s chief executive has said.
Martin Whitaker said despite “ups and downs” over the last few months, construction work “could begin this afternoon” – as soon as the Welsh Government gives the green light.
In an exclusive interview with the South Wales Argus, Mr Whitaker said the racetrack will be the “most technologically advanced in the world” with spectator areas designed by the company behind the Emirates and Olympic stadiums.
The company chief added Ebbw Vale’s ex-miners and steelworkers have skills which can be used in the project, and said the promise of 6,000 jobs is “perfectly realistic”.
In April this year the £370 million scheme suffered a blow after the Welsh Government refused to underwrite the entire investment because of the risk to taxpayers’ money.
Developers have now submitted a new financial plan which shares the guarantee more evenly. It is hoped the Welsh Government will sign off the new plan soon.
Mr Whitaker, pictured below, said: “We have had some ups and downs and frankly they are probably mistakes we have made in our approach.
“But the great thing is the government officers and their teams have engaged with us in recent months and they have said this is what we want.
“The moment we get that rubber stamp we could start.”
When construction starts, Mr Whitaker said the racetrack will be the latest specification track in the world with a 50 metre rise and fall – more than other UK tracks.
“That makes it a very fast flowing circuit and a circuit that drivers love,” Mr Whitaker said.
One of the viewing sections, called the Cauldron, will hold 30,000 spectators and will have a view across the whole track.
“Not many circuits allow you to watch every single part of the track,” Mr Whitaker said.
The track will also have geothermal underfloor heating meaning drivers and companies can test the racetrack even in winter months when other circuits are covered in frost and ice.
They will run four to five major international sporting events each year plus other events like triathlons and human endeavour challenges.
One thousand, four hundred to 1,600 people are expected to be employed in building the track with permanent circuit staff predicted to be up to 160.
The company said it is working with Coleg Gwent and plans to create a joint catering company to employ local Ebbw Vale residents in major events.
“We are talking about really solid jobs in the circuit,” Mr Whitaker said.
“There’s so much passion here for what we are doing but more importantly there’s so many opportunities that I don’t think people have even thought about – and there’s no reason they should have because nobody’s ever decided to put a racetrack and facility in this part of the world.
“There’s a lot of skills in Ebbw Vale and in the region which are left over from the steel and mining period and these skills can be very easily put to good effect in what we are doing whether it’s constructing the circuit, management or in terms of maintenance.
“I think the 6,000 jobs figure is perfectly realistic. It won’t be 6,000 jobs tomorrow but if you start looking at everything – the music venue, campsite, multiplex, and all the indirect activity – they add up and as the phasing comes on more and more will happen.”
Circuit of Wales has the rights to the British Moto GP and plans to run the first race in the second part of 2018.
Mr Whitaker said: “All the diggers are already here. We could start this afternoon – we are ready to go.
“The Welsh government and local councils – Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent – are three units working as a single unit.
“They are giving public sector support which is a guarantee.
“The critical thing is there’s a win win on both sides. We can get on with the project and it will be a project that the people of Ebbw Vale and the whole of Wales will be very proud of.”
What will be there?
- The circuit itself will have viewing zones including the Cauldron, which will have capacity of 30,000 and a view across the whole of the track. Circuit of Wales is working with Populous, who designed the Olympic and Emirates stadiums, to design their spectator areas.
- A central area for music concerts. The concert area will have capacity of 10,000 to 15,000.
An extreme spots zone for visitors to try sports including zip wiring, archery, clay pigeon shooting, motor biking, rock climbing.
- A three star and a four star hotel.
- A properly furnished campsite. This is for visitors to the local area and those for specific sporting activities, events and race days.
- An area with shops, restaurants and giant screens.
- A technology park. Companies who build racecar parts, for example, can run tests here.
Via [South Wales Argus]