Natural Resources Wales backs motorsport access to Welsh forests following review
Natural Resources Wales has backed motorsport access to Welsh forests following a review.
At its meeting today, NRW agreed that motorsports will continue to be permitted in the forests it manages on behalf of the Welsh Government.
Motorsport in Welsh woodlands has a long history. For decades, the country’s forests have hosted a wide variety of motorsports – from international rallies to grassroots club events.
An NRW-commissioned independent review looked at the possible tensions between hosting motorsports, its economic and social benefits and its commitments to respond to the nature and climate emergencies.
Stakeholders including motorsport organisations and businesses, local communities, government and local government, and other woodland recreation businesses were also part of the review process.
The findings of the review formed the basis of today’s decision which will see motorsport events held on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate for five years
Sir David Henshaw, Chairman of NRW’s Board said:
“As a land manager we take an evidence-based approach to all our activities, and sustainable management of natural resources is our core purpose.
“This is the type of difficult decision that NRW has to make as an organisation – balancing the economic, social and environmental needs of Wales, for now and for the future.
“The review concluded that, on balance, motorsports were compatible with the principles of the sustainable management of natural resources.
“As a Board we concluded that motorsports should be allowed in the forests we manage for the short and medium term, but this should go hand in hand with our ambition to enhance the forest environment. We expect to see these ambitions reflected in any new agreement.”
Dominic Driver, Head of Land Stewardship explained:
“We will now work with the motorsport sector and other forest users to map a route that protects the forest environment and reduces the impact of any future events.
“With our commitment to supporting a green recovery, we will work with Motorsport UK to put the environment at the heart of our discussions to drive towards a lower carbon, greener and more sustainable approach to hosting the events in the future.”
Motorsport UK Chairman David Richards CBE said: “Motorsport UK are encouraged by the positive dialogue with Natural Resource Wales and delighted to hear the positive support from the NRW Board towards the sport and the shared vision to help shape the future of motorsport in the Welsh forests.”
“We fully support the drive towards protecting the forests, sustaining biodiversity and reducing the footprint of events, and that is a challenge we fully embrace. Our member clubs are already working hard towards this, with one of the largest events in Wales, the Cambrian Rally aiming to go net carbon neutral by 2025.”
“Motorsport in the Welsh forests provides sports tourism and economic benefits which are vital for local and regional communities, and we must work together collaboratively to maintain the sport and the benefit it brings to the wider population.”
Last years Wales Rally GB which would have been based in Deeside was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The 76th staging of the historic event – which takes in tough north Wales forest stages – was due to run from 29 October to 1 November last year as the penultimate round on the 2020 World Rally Championship schedule.
The pandemic has also led to the cancellation of the 2021 event however, the UK round of the World Rally Championship could move to Northern Ireland in 2022.
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