Another disgraceful judgement which puts the future of British motor sport at risk

BTCC, Croft, 2008

Croft in Yorkshire is the latest British motor racing circuit to have its future threatened by a stunningly unjust piece of lawmaking.

The Yorkshire circuit, which re-opened in 1994, will have to pay almost £1m after losing an appeal against local residents who complained about the amount of noise at the circuit. It will also have to reduce the number of days the track can be used.

In an unusual twist, the people who brought about the complaint are related to the company who restored the circuit in the mid-1990s. Derek and Julia Watson live close to the circuit and their daughter Jill Wilson was previously married to Jimmy Wilson, owner of Croft Classic and Historic Motor Sports.

It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to suppose there might be an element of vindictiveness to all this.

The judgement passed down not only leaves Croft open to future complaints, but it could open the way for people to bring similar complaints against other tracks – even if those circuits were in operation before the complainants moved into the area.

Croft now faces severe restrictions on the number of days it can be in operation. It goes without saying that in such grim economic times such restrictions could be a death sentence for a circuit.

The depressing fact is, Croft is far from being the first circuit to have its activities cut in this way. Many British racing circuits have to comply with onerous noise restrictions purely because housing developments have encroached on the surrounding land. Brands Hatch hardly ever uses its full length Grand Prix circuit because of houses nearby. Even 87 year-old Monza in Ferrari-mad Italy cannot escape the restrictions.

I fully understand why someone would not want to live next to a noise circuit if they have no interest in motor racing. What I cannot understand is why they would choose to live there in the first place. And what makes me furious is that the judiciary chooses to side with the people, who can move, over the circuits, who cannot.

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