The UK parliament has passed an amendment to the Road Traffic Act, allowing the use of closed-roads for motorsport events in England. The move provides a boost for hopes of a British Formula E race return, after London’s round was dropped from the 2016-2017 calendar.
Having hosted a double-header finale for the first two seasons of Formula E, Battersea Park was removed from the season three schedule as a compromise for keeping it as the season two closer, amid protests from local campaigners. It is understood the series organiser agreed to end the contract with Wandsworth Council following talks with City Hall over the possibility of moving the event to a more central location for season four.
A return to the UK and London in particular remains high on Formula E boss Alejandro Agag’s wishlist for Formula E. Last year Agag told Autosport he was confident a city-centre race in the capital could be organised, admitting a “dream” track would incorporate landmarks such as the Mall, Birdcage Walk and Horse Guards Parade.
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.
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.”
Staff writer: Lewis Larkam