Battersea Park race faces another legal challenge

Piquet went into the final weekend with a 17 point lead over di Grassi (Credit: Steven Tee/LAT Photographic/Formula E.)

The season ending ePrix at Battersea Park could be under threat after a local campaign group launched a legal challenge to the council’s decision to allow it to be used as a race track.

The Battersea Park Action Group is attempting to prevent Wandsworth Council from shutting large areas of the park for nearly three weeks while the works take place to prepare it for the FIA Formula E season finale.

The appeal is led by James Jackson, a blind author and local resident who uses the park on a daily basis. He has commenced judicial review proceedings claiming that in allowing the race to go ahead, the council has acted in contravention of local and national planning policy, and has failed in its duty to protect the park.

Jackson said, “The Council has paid lip service to local people and park users’ views, some of whom do not have the option to go elsewhere. To ignore the laws that protect public open spaces shows a total disregard of the benefits to physical and mental well-being these areas bring to all Londoners.”

The controversy around the venue has been long-running, and when the council chose not to invoke a break clause in their contract with Formula E in November it led to protests outside their offices.

Rounds ten and eleven of this season’s championship are due to take place in Battersea Park on the second and third of July, meaning that should the appeal be successful, it would leave little or no time to find an alternative venue.

The challenge comes after news that the Moscow round of the championship might also not go ahead, thanks to administrative issues encountered by the organisers in Russia. Autosport reports that Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag will call off the race if they do not confirm the necessary road closures by mid-May.

Should either venue not be able to host it would have significant repercussions for the reputation of the series, and in the championship battle, as it would leave Lucas di Grassi’s championship rivals fewer opportunities to close down his lead.

  • altoclef44

    And all this because Agag was misled by Boris Johnson as to the suitability of the Park for a Race Track. The Leader of Wandsworth Council was against it in the beginning. With “friends” like Boris, who needs enemies? BTW, the protests took place before the Overview Committee decision. Then Agag chose to ignore the force of the opposition when he lied at a Paris Press Conference last Friday, numbering the protest campaigners as nine.

  • Bernard S

    E and Wandsworth Council have jointly managed to generate a slow motion car
    crash for themselves as claims as to the ‘greeness’ of the proposed Battersea
    Park are countered by the evidence that it is anything but.
    This tied to the arrogance of both in
    treating significant and informed opposition to this event with barely
    concealed disdain are the hallmarks of corporate arrogance and overweening
    self-regard.Time for both Council and
    Formula E to release themselves from this great folly and rescue their
    threadbare reputations – and restore the park to the thousands of people who both
    use and care about it.

  • Wandle1

    Formula E need to get the message that this is not doing their reputation any good. Sponsors, Visa, Swiss Private Bank Julius Baer and DHL must be beginning to wonder what they have got themselves into. They are slowly being dragged into a damage limitation exercise by association.

    Any innovation message that Formula E had was lost a long time ago as there green credentials in taking over a public park in mid-summer are questioned and their seeming hypocrisy highlighted. Wandsworth Council I understand are the ones up for judicial review on the basis that they do not have the legal right to close the park to the general public for a prolonged period.

    Formula E need to play to their strengths not have people highlight some clear weaknesses if they wish to prosper in a competitive motor racing scene where the product has to be right. Such complications and uncertainties are a real turn off.