Major global motorsport event is given green light

Speedway at Berwick. Pic Colin Poole.
Speedway at Berwick. Pic Colin Poole.
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Berwick Speedway has secured the planning permission it required to enable it to host a World Grand Prix qualifying event at Shielfield Park tomorrow.

The club has also received the go-ahead to hold four individual rain-off events from Monday to Thursday during the evening, if required, throughout the season.

The application was unanimously approved as recommended by officers, by Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee in Alnwick on Thursday.

Phil Newton, commercial manager for Berwick Speedway, was delighted with the outcome, especially as it allows the FIM Grand Prix Qualifier – branded ‘the biggest speedway meeting ever staged at Berwick’ – to go ahead.

He said: “This event is very important and will allow us to showcase what we do on a weekly basis to a bigger audience.

“We are expecting in the region of three to four thousand people and the impact to the town will be great with many travelling fans.”

The event will see world-class riders from across the globe battle it out.

It is one of a number of qualifiers, from which riders can progress to the Race-Offs, leading to the GP Challenge in Croatia in September and possible places in the 2013 Grand Prix series.

The exciting full line-up features Sam Masters (Aus), Emiliano Sanchez (Arg), Krzysztof Buczkowski (Pol), Chris Harris (GB), Gugielmo Franchetti (Ita), Christian Hefenbrock (Ger), Henry van der Steen (Ned), Kenneth Hansen (Den), Ryan Fisher (USA), Matej Kus (Cze), Tero Aarnio (Fin), Davey Watt (Aus), Danny King (GB), Linus Sundstrom (Swe), Facundo Leonel Albin (Arg), Kenny Ingalls (USA) Lee Complin (GB) and Ricky Ashworth (GB).

A spokesman for the British Speedway Promoters’ Association said: “Berwick have shown many other clubs the way forward in recent years.

“They have the first polyfoam fence in their league, a greatly-improved racing surface, a well-respected standard of meeting presentation and – following recent inspection – full FIM approval to stage international events of this nature.”

Gates open at 5pm, tapes up is at 7pm. Admission is £18 adults, £12 concessions, £5 U16s and free for U5s. Visit www.berwickbandits.co

Berwick Town Council had objected to the proposed increased flexibility of rain-off days on the grounds of noise pollution.

Two letters of objection had also been submitted by local residents citing concerns about an increase in noise, vibration, dust and exhaust fume pollution that adversely affect their gardens.

One said that ‘under no circumstances’ should practice sessions be permitted for the Grand Prix event on Saturday afternoon.

But, the county council’s planning department felt the additional rain-off provision would not cause detrimental effects over and above the existing planning permission for speedway use.

It was also believed that Saturday’s Grand Prix Qualifier was ‘a special event which would have wider economic and social benefits to the Berwick community, which far outweigh any potential negative effects to surrounding residents’.

And members of the committee agreed, saying the conditions in place took concerns into account and that Saturday’s qualifier will be a boost to the economy.