The possibility of closed-roads motor sport in England, Wales and Scotland has taken a major step forward, with the announcement of a government consultation process. Most countries in Europe, including the Republic of Ireland, have laws allowing public roads to be closed for motor sport. And the Isle of Man already reaps major financial benefit from closed-road motor sport.
However, aside from specific bills catering for the Tour of Mull and Jim Clark Memorial rallies in Scotland, the UK does not allow motor sport on public roads. The main hurdle has long been cited as the need to suspend road traffic laws, including speed limits.
The UK’s governing body, the MSA, has lobbied successive governments to give local authorities the right to suspend the Road Traffic Act without having to resort to an Act of Parliament. Such an amendment would open the way for competitive motor sport such as stage rallies, sprints and hill climbs to take place on a limited number of British roads. Responses to the consultation close on April 10.
Rob Jones, MSA chief executive, said the consultation was a huge step forward for the MSA’s long-running campaign. “This is the news British motor sport has been waiting for,” he said. “It represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the landscape of our sport, allowing local communities across the country to host motor sport events and enjoy all the excitement and economic benefit they bring.”
Leading characters in the sport have added support, including 1992 Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell. “I have seen first-hand the very significant impact of motor sport on the economy of the Isle of Man and Jersey,” he said, “so this would be a great move forward for the sport and would bring visitors and pride to parts of the country that stage events.”