The UK Government has announced the relaxation of laws that permits racing on public roads in England.
The change to the law, that comes into effect on the 10th of April, will allow the Motor Sport Association (MSA) and Auto-Cycle Union authorisation to issue permits for such events. The governing bodies will need to consult the local council, police and any other local bodies before the event can go ahead. The local authorities will need to be fully satisfied that the event will be safe and they also have a final say over whether a race meeting can go ahead or any additional safety measure are required before during and even after the event for any future races.
The move could help with tourism to local areas in a similar way to how Yorkshire benefited when the Tour de France came to the area in 2014. On that occasion reports from the local area reported an estimated £130 million boost to the local economy. It is hoped that this change to the laws will allow other areas to benefit in similar manner with the use of motor sport.
Motor cycle racing has long been associated with road racing with many events still in existence in Ireland and of course the Isle Of Man TT. Rallying has also used closed roads in recent years as well across other parts of the UK including on the Jim Clark Rally in Scotland. However this event in in jeopardy due to MSA refusing a permit. This was down to a fatal accident during the 2014 event that killed three spectators. However it is thought the main reason for the refusal of permit is not down to safety concerns but more that the Fatal Accident Enquiry has still not been fully completed.
The new laws will also renew discussion about a possible F1 races in the capital London as well. It is thought that it will more likely be local events and rallies with some mid tier events in the future. Many a motor sport fan will remember the Birmingham Super Prix that was hosted in the Midlands city between 1986 and 1990 which centred on Formula 3000 (now GP2) as well as the BTCC and other UK based championship in support.
The Transport Minister Andrew Jones said of the change, “Britain is a world leader in the motor sport industry and this will further cement our position. There are already races of this kind in some areas of the British Isles which are incredibly popular, attracting thousands of spectators. New road races will boost local economies through increased tourism and hospitality, and offer community opportunities such as volunteering.”
MSA and Auto Cycle Union were equally as supportive of the change as was 1992 F1 World Champion Nigel Mansell, a resident of the Isle of Man.
“I have seen first-hand the very significant impact of motor sport on the economy of the Isle of Man and Jersey, so this is a great move forward for the sport and will bring visitors and pride to parts of the country that wish to stage such events. I am delighted that this government is embracing motor sport, which will assist the UK’s world-leading position and improve the sport’s ability to help provide opportunities and focus for young people.”
The change also brings to an end a near three year consultation process by the government. It also brings a boost to UK motor sport as a whole as well with more possibilities to take racing to areas with no permanent race track.
Photo Credit: gov.uk