MSA and NRW still looking for solution to Welsh rallying fees

by Vince Pettit

Following on from the recent news that the Motor Sports Association is still currently in talks with Natural Resources Wales to conclude a new deal on forestry fees in Wales, MSA Chief Executive Rob Jones has published an open letter talking about the situation.

While fees for England and Scotland have already been agreed, the current deal for Wales expires on 31 May.

NRW published an update about the current talks which states:

“In early 2014, it became apparent that there was a significant discrepancy in the amount it cost NRW to prepare and reinstate its forest roads for rallying and the fees paid by the MSA.

This meant that in 2015 the MSA paid NRW £339.000 in stage rally charges, including their flagship event Wales Rally GB, but the actual cost to reinstate the roads used for rallying was £655,000.”

In reply to NRW Jones wrote:

“As you can see from the NRW figures, last year the MSA paid £339,000 for road repairs in the Welsh forests, but NRW says that its costs for reinstating the roads in 2015 actually totalled £655,000. NRW is currently negotiating on the firm basis that it will seek reimbursement of the total cost of reinstatement.

“Assuming the quoted £655,000 figure is representative over more than one season, this would mean a doubling of Welsh forestry charges, and NRW currently intends to introduce these new rates from 1 June 2016.”

Jones also mentions, “For us there are three separate but inextricably linked aspects to consider: the sport; the industry underpinning the sport; and economic impact upon – particularly rural – communities in Wales.”

While the current talks surround the use of the forests and repair of the roads, Jones mentions the effect that rallying as a whole has on the Welsh region:

“If we add Wales Rally GB, which alone creates a staggering £10million for the Welsh economy, we can reasonably conclude that forest stage rallying is worth approximately £15million a year to Wales. And that does not even take into account the promotional value of these events, some of which have a global media reach.”

The full letter can be read here.

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