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Rally track row could be driven to court

PUBLISHED: 16:45 04 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:37 03 March 2010

A CONTROVERSIAL plan by farmers to diversify and install a rally track by the A12 could be taken all the way at taxpayers' expense to the High Court.

Suffolk Coastal District Council revealed it is seeking legal advice before deciding whether to challenge a decision taken by a Government inspector to allow the track to be built at Martlesham between the Ipswich to Lowestoft railway line and the dual-carriageway.

A CONTROVERSIAL plan by farmers to diversify and install a rally track by the A12 could be taken all the way at taxpayers' expense to the High Court.

Suffolk Coastal District Council revealed it is seeking legal advice before deciding whether to challenge a decision taken by a Government inspector to allow the track to be built at Martlesham between the Ipswich to Lowestoft railway line and the dual-carriageway.

The council had originally refused permission for Philip and Louise Abbott to set up a racing circuit at Beacon Hill Farm, Bealings Road, as it claimed the track would be out of character with the rural appearance of the road, and intrusive and harmful to the Special Landscape Area.

It was also worried that the track, if the racing was a success, would become more intensively used and it would stand out more in the area.

But the couple won their appeal against the council's decision. The inspector ruled that the A12 and railway embankments would enclose the track and shield it from the sight of motorists on the dual carriageway. He said the sound of trains and vehicles would obscure the sound of the rally karts.

The council is disappointed with the inspector's decision and it is deciding whether there is enough evidence to take a stance supporting its Local Plan policy which forbids the installation of race tracks in some parts of the countryside.

The development control sub committee was told that the council believed there were grounds to challenge the inspector's ruling and appeal against his decision, and the case would be handed to the council solicitor for a final decision.

Afterwards Bob Chamberlain, assistant director of planning and leisure, said the inspector had not referred in his adjudication to the Council's Local Plan which highlighted policy on proposals to use land in the countryside for off-road motor sports.

The policy states that motor sports will not be allowed in a Special Landscape Area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

If the council decides to appeal then Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and Regions, will have to decide whether to challenge the council's appeal. A challenge would be heard at the High Court. If Mr Byers admits that the council was correct in its original decision then he can back their decision without going to court.

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