Householders who try to use strict planning rules to cripple British racing venues are about to be made a general election issue by the UK’s motorsport governing body.
The Motor Sports Association (MSA) also plans to highlight the idea that racing can be one of the best possible testing grounds for environmental innovations.
It has launched a new manifesto to coincide with the General Election setting out the three key issues that it believes are currently most important to the sport.
On the issue of “greening” motorsport it says: “The MSA would be pleased to work with government and the automotive industry to pilot new initiatives and explore new opportunities to bring forward environmental benefits.
“Such initiatives could include the use of alternative energies, low-impact tyres on gravel roads, limits on the number of tyres permitted for use in competition, reductions in acceptable noise levels and the promotion of economy runs.
“The MSA believes that motor sport can take a pro-active lead in bringing forward the introduction of environmental technologies and assist their acceptance by demonstrating their potential in a competitive context.”
As well as the possibilities of using motorsport as an environmental testbed it will be campaigning on planning laws that hinder the ability of circuits to run events and on the difficulty of holding races on public roads.
Action on addressing noise challenges
Action to address noise challenges will be welcomed by many fans who have seen racing on a succession of circuits limited by rules specifying very tight conditions about when and how often cars can run.
Many feel that a more satisfactory balance needs to be found between the needs of the sport and the statutory requirements to limit noise nuisance.
On this issue the manifesto says: “MSA members, specifically clubs and venues, are alarmed by an increasingly vocal minority who have started to take legal recourse to prevent the continued running of officially designated and controlled motor sport events.
“Using the legislative powers under the Tort of Nuisance, local residents are threatening to further restrict the use of designated motor sport venues.
“This threatens the commercial viability of these venues and by extension the wider motor sport industry that underpins the UK’s world-leading high-performance engineering sector.”
It gives the example of Croft in North Yorkshire which lost a case last year bought by a disaffected local resident who the MSA says did not have the support of the local community.
As a result the circuit has had to cut back dramatically on its motorsport offering despite not having altered the nature of its activities or breached any planning rules.
The manifesto continues: “The inevitable negative knock-on effect has been a reduction in the numbers of local people employed, a decrease in the economic benefit to the area through the use of local hotels, restaurants and suppliers, and the loss of a leisure amenity not only to participants but also to volunteer officials, spectators and locals.
“The experience of the governing body for motorcycle sport, the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU), demonstrates that where adequate facilities do not exist for organised motor sport, riders will conduct illegal and un-regulated activity that causes far greater disturbance and inconvenience for the local community.
“A number of similar situations are nearing the courts and the MSA would be pleased to work closely with government to provide clear guidance for the courts in similar circumstances, while acknowledging that this is not an issue limited in its impact to the motor sport community.”
Read the manifesto in full here.
The organisation is also looking to show the strength of support on the issue of holding Closed Road events on mainland Britain without the need to resort to an Act of Parliament to suspend the Road Traffic Act, as is currently necessary.
It is calling on its 50,000 members to sign an online petition which can be found by following the link.
It also suggests the manifesto as a resource and source of information for anyone wanting to discuss the issues it raises with their prospective parliamentary candidates. A draft letter to send out to them can be downloaded by following the manifesto link.
The organisation says it will also be looking to discuss the manifesto with government during 2010 at private meetings, events and the party conferences due to be held in the autumn.
Colin Hilton, MSA Chief Executive, said of the project: “The MSA has made great strides in the past 18 months with its Public Affairs campaign, raising the profile of the sport and highlighting our development programmes to key ministers and shadows.
“The 2010 manifesto sets out our strategic priorities for the coming year, but can also be a useful tool for any of our members that might like to make the case for motor sport to their MPs and PPCs.
“We would particularly encourage everyone to demonstrate the level of support for closed road events by signing the petition.”