Motorsport UK and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) have signed a new access agreement which will allow competitive four-wheeled rallying on NRW-managed land in Wales for the next three years until 2023.
For decades, NRW’s forests have played host to a range of motorsport, working effectively with Motorsport UK to stage events at every level of the sport, from grassroots to the iconic Wales Rally GB – Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
But whether the Wales Rally GB will be part of those events in future years it still to be confirmed.
The event has been cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 crisis.
But there are suggestions the British round of the World Rally Championship could move to Northern Ireland from 2021 with talks still ongoing over finalising the calendar.
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“We are delighted to announce a new agreement with Natural Resources Wales which will allow rallying to take place in the Welsh forests for at least the next three years,” said Motorsport UK CEO, Hugh Chambers.
“Rallying is an important discipline for Motorsport UK, and Wales offers the perfect environment for our events, held on some of the most revered stages in the world of rallying.
“Not only is it important for competitors, but these events are vital contributors to the infrastructure around them, including local hospitality sectors, as well as subsidiary businesses related to the sport who rely heavily on forestry rallying.
“We will be working with NRW to optimise the number of events, working effectively with our local communities to ensure affordability to our competitors through a sustainable strategy. Through this, we can preserve the sport and forests for generations to come.”
Dominic Driver, Natural Resources Wales’ Head of Land Stewardship, said: “The forests NRW manages in Wales are the heartlands of rallying in the UK and present a unique challenge to drivers.
“Rallying makes an important contribution to our rural economy and many community benefits derive from these events. The impact of COVID-19 has seen more and more people retuning to visit our nation’s forests and has placed a greater focus on the need to respect our natural environment.
“In reaching this agreement, NRW is considering fully the impact of everything we do on the places people love. This includes the commitment to working with Motorsport UK on the journey towards becoming a greener, more sustainable sport in the future.
“This ambition will remain at the heart of our discussions as we work with the rally event organisers on the programme of events for 2021 and beyond.”