MSA achieves closed-road motorsport for mainland Britain
In one of the biggest developments in the history of UK motorsport, the Motor Sports Association’s long campaign to bring closed-road events to mainland Britain has been successful, with the enabling legislation commencing on Monday (10 April).
Since 2010 the MSA has called for a change in the law to allow local authorities to suspend the Road Traffic Act for authorised motorsport events, without requiring individual Acts of Parliament. Independent research commissioned by the MSA and conducted by the Sport Research Institute at Sheffield Hallam University showed that local communities across Britain could generate up to £40m of additional revenue by closing roads to host a limited number of motorsport events.
Primary legislation providing the framework for closed-road motorsport was passed in the 2015 Deregulation Act. The MSA has since worked closely with the Department for Transport (DfT) on the secondary legislation required to make this framework available to event organisers. This comprises an impact assessment with the commencement order.
The commencement order names the MSA and its sister governing body for two-wheel UK motorsport, the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU), as the two authorising bodies for closed-road motorsport events from 10 April onward.
Rob Jones, MSA Chief Executive, said: “This is a seismic shift for UK motorsport, and one that the MSA and the wider motorsport community have pursued determinedly for many years. We can now take motorsport to the people, and in turn those local hosting communities have the opportunity to benefit from the economic boost that these events may provide.
“Many people have contributed to this long campaign and we must first give special mention to my predecessor as MSA Chief Executive, Colin Hilton, for starting down this road seven years ago. Thanks also to our former Director of Communications, Ben Taylor, for his relentless lobbying, and to our Rallies Executive, Ian Davis, for his invaluable contribution to the required legislation. We owe a further debt of gratitude to Ken Clarke MP and Ben Wallace MP and for their tireless support in Westminster.”
Andrew Jones MP, Transport Minister, said: “Britain is a world leader in the motorsport 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.”
Among those welcoming the news was the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship, which stages events in capital cities across the globe. It said: “The FIA Formula E Championship warmly welcomes the news that the UK’s Road Traffic Act has been amended, permitting the closure of roads and allowing for the possibility of regulated motor racing on closed highways.
“We recognise the key role that the MSA, and its Chief Executive Rob Jones, have played in making this happen. This move considerably helps the prospect of the London ePrix returning to the streets of the British capital.”
Nigel Mansell CBE, 1992 F1 world champion, was equally enthusiastic. He said: “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 motorsport, which will assist the UK's world-leading position and improve the sport's ability to help provide opportunities and focus for young people.”
Meanwhile Tendring District Council (TDC) has been in discussions about the possibility of bringing an event to the District. Tanya Ferguson, TDC’s Cabinet Member for Tourism and Culture, said: “There is no doubt at all that hosting such an exciting event would be a massive draw and bring people into our area to boost the economy. Our talks are at a very early stage but we are very interested in the prospect and hope that the idea can be developed with Tendring.”
Images: Formula E, Battersea Park (top); Ulster Rally, Northern Ireland (middle); Val des Terres hill climb, Guernsey (bottom).
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