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Circuit of Wales 'could start by spring' as ministers scrutinise plans

The developer behind the much-delayed £425m Circuit of Wales racetrack has insisted construction could start this spring after it submitted its latest funding plan to the Welsh Government.

Heads of the Valleys Development Company said its latest proposal adhered to the financing requirements set by the Welsh Government and that it was working on a timeline to begin construction on the Blaneau Gwent site by the spring.

Infrastructure secretary Ken Skates last month gave the developer an 8 February deadline to name all the private investors backing the scheme – or miss out on a potential funding guarantee.

The Welsh Government requires the developer to ensure at least 50 per cent of the finance and 50 per cent of the risk of the project will be taken by the private sector.

Its guarantee would ensure that lenders to the project would be repaid in full and on time, irrespective of project performance.

A statement from HoVDC said: “We are working to a proactive timeline and look forward to beginning construction by the spring of this year, bringing to life our vision of a world-class hub for motorsport, leisure, tourism and innovation, which will be transformational for the local community, generating employment opportunities and helping to both stimulate and diversify the Welsh economy.”

A statement from Mr Skates said that while the government had received a “better proposal” from HoVDC, it would still need to carry out a thorough due diligence assessment.

Mr Skates said: “The due diligence exercise will include rigorous value-for-money testing and a fit and proper person assessment of the directors.

“It will also assess deliverability and the long-term sustainability of the proposal.

“We will seek clarity on the types and number of jobs directly and indirectly resulting from the project; how those job numbers compare to the initially reported figure of 6,000; as well as the likely number of jobs that would be filled by local people.”

Depending on the outcome of these assessments, the proposal will then be put before the government’s infrastructure and economy cabinet, which will decide on whether to take the project forward.

The latest funding proposal will be the third submitted by the developer to the Welsh Government.

In April last year HoVDC had its first funding proposal rejected after then economy and infrastructure minister Edwina Hart questioned the viability of the project.

A second proposal was rejected in July.

Since then, the project has secured important partners including corporate advisers Kleinwort Benson and the Extreme Sports company.

The latest proposals include mountain bike trails, a BMX park, stages for live concerts and indoor skiing, a skate park and a virtual reality zone alongside the racetrack.

Spanish firm FCC signed a contract to be the lead contractor in 2012, in partnership with Welsh construction firm Alun Griffiths.

Construction News revealed last year that Alun Griffiths had reduced its involvement in the project, with Irish contractor Roadbridge taking its place in the JV.

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