Rallying back on course in Welsh forests

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Motorsport UK have signed a new access agreement which will allow competitive four-wheeled rallying on NRW-managed land for the next three years.

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.

The new agreement will see local economy boosting events return to the woodland estate until 2023 with a renewed importance on the potential impacts of motorsport on the natural environment.

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.
“Our agreement with Motorsport UK sees new terms introduced that will make rallying in Wales more affordable to participants and allow people to enjoy the sport safely, whilst ensuring the forests of Wales are protected and maintained for generations to come.
“We look forward to welcoming those involved in the spectacular sport, with action played out on forest tracks revered in the world of rallying.”

The announcement comes following the news that the 2020 Wales Rally GB, due to run in the autumn, would be cancelled in light of the Coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions in place designed to protect public safety.

And with support growing for a green recovery from COVID-19, the new agreement will have environmental considerations at its heart with NRW and Motorsport UK committing to working together on the ambition to drive towards a lower carbon, greener and more sustainable approach to hosting the events in the future.

Dominic Driver added: “Rallying makes an important contribution to our rural economy and many community benefits derive from these events.
“However, we also fully recognise that hosting such events in our forests brings with it a wider sense of responsibility to the public, the local communities and to our own responsibilities in helping to tackle the climate and nature emergencies.
“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”.
Motorsport UK CEO, Hugh Chambers, said: “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. Rallying is an important discipline for Motorsport UK and Wales offers the perfect environment for our events to be staged on some of the most revered stages in the world of rallying.
“Not only is it important for competitors, but these events are vital to the infrastructure around them, from local hospitality sectors, but also the subsidiary businesses related to the sport who rely heavily on forestry rallying. We will be working with NRW to maximise the number of events, the affordability to our competitors and the long-term sustainability so we can preserve the sport and forests for generations to come.”