In one of the biggest developments in the history of UK motorsport, the Motor Sports Association’s long campaign to bring closed-road events to mainland Britain has been successful, with the enabling legislation commencing today (Monday 10 April).
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 GB£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.
The commencement order names the MSA and its sister governing body for two-wheel UK motorsport, the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU), as the two authorising bodies for closed-road motorsport events from 10 April onward.
“This is a seismic shift for UK motorsport, and one that the MSA and the wider motorsport community have pursued determinedly for many years,” explained Rob Jones, MSA chief executive. “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.”
“Britain is a world leader in the motorsport industry and this will further cement our position,” added Andrew Jones MP, transport minister. “There are already races of this kind in some areas of the British Isles which are incredibly popular, attracting thousands of spectators. New road races will boost local economies through increased tourism and hospitality, and offer community opportunities such as volunteering.”
Among those welcoming the news was the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship, which stages events in capital cities across the globe. It said: “The FIA Formula E Championship warmly welcomes the news that the UK’s Road Traffic Act has been amended, permitting the closure of roads and allowing for the possibility of regulated motor racing on closed highways.
“We recognise the key role that the MSA, and its chief executive Rob Jones, have played in making this happen. This move considerably helps the prospect of the London ePrix returning to the streets of the British capital.”