Who said anything about F1 in London?

Closed roads consultation

A UK consultation launched today may result in cutting red tape to allow motorsports events to take place on closed public roads.

The UK department responsible for culture, media and sport is in the driving seat of the exercise, which will explore removing regulation that prevents local authorities closing roads for motor racing (they can already close roads for sports and leisure events, but closing public roads for motor racing requires legislation from Parliament specific to the event).

Many are dubbing this an exploration into a London F1 event, but the nuances of what the government is proposing seem to defy such a conclusion:

  • Firstly, the consultation doesn’t name any one specific motor sport. Instead, it says, deregulation could be used “to include stage rallies, hill climbs, races and speed trials”. It is at the behest of the MSA and ACU, the governing bodies for motor sports and motorcycle sports – so events could be two-wheeled as well as four.
  • Secondly, the consultation document suggests that “there could be a demand to hold up to 20 on-road motor sports events around Britain each year”. Elsewhere, it points out that 9,000 motorsport and motorcycle sport events take place annually in the UK – there will likely be fierce competition around the country for those 20 spots.
  • Thirdly, it is thought that “closures due to motor sport events will typically last for one day or less, meaning minimal amounts of disruption. Traffic varies across the road network and motor sport events are likely to be organised in areas where traffic flows are relatively sparse.” London is not known for sparse traffic flows, and F1 closes roads for far longer than a single day.
  • Lastly, the EU is taking legal action against London for failing to deal with air pollution. Hosting an F1 race wouldn’t seem the most sensible way to go about demonstrating contrition or resolve to clean up air quality.

Is the revised regulatory environment likely to materialise? The proposals seem sensible enough, and this government has made cutting red tape part of its mission statement.

Formula E is due to hit the streets of London in 2015. Despite the one day format and minimal noise and air pollution associated with hosting a fixture of the new electric racing series, the wording of the consultation document makes it clear that the London round is not yet a done deal.

The consultation period runs from today until 10 April 2014. You can respond here.

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