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ACU Welcomes Continuation of Motorsports in England’s Forests

Thursday February 4, 2021 at 10:36am
ACU Welcomes Continuation of Motorsports in England’s Forests

Following an independent review of motorsport in the nation’s forests, the ACU welcome the commitment made by Forestry England to allow motorsports to continue, while the ACU and Motorsport UK work in partnership with Forestry England to reduce environmental impacts, increase sustainability, and ensure that motorsport contributes to the upkeep of the nation’s forests. 

The independent review showed that both two and four wheeled motorsports in the nation’s forests are "recognised globally as some of the best event terrain in the world". In addition, the facility and opportunity that the forests provide are a vital part of supporting grassroots activity and contributing to the UK’s position as a leading nation in motorsports. 

For the ACU, Trials and Enduro events play a vital role in getting our members and enthusiasts out to enjoy the public forest estate, while encouraging grass-roots and competitive motorcycle sport across the UK. Many thousands of people every year visit the nations forests to take part and spectate in motorcycle sport events, from the beautiful setting of West Harting Down in the South, to Thetford Forest in the East, and Boltby Forest in the North. Events range from club-level trials, to national championship competitions, allowing people of all ages and abilities to take part. 

The review also found that communities affected by motorsports events on the whole are supportive, and marginally impacted due to the limited frequency of events at each forest. Motorsport events also provide support for rural economies estimated between £2.2 to £2.4 million per year. Safe and legitimate sporting events also help reduce illegal riding, and the ACU together with local clubs and organisers regularly work with local forestry officers to help combat illegal riding and secure the future of motorcycle sport. 

Looking to the future, the ACU will set up a Sustainability Taskforce to consider the impact of our sports and appropriate mitigation. We are committed to working with stakeholders, organisers, manufacturers and other forest users to encourage and improve sustainability, while reduce the environmental impact of our sport. Early initiatives will include continuing to work closely with Beat Foresters on the ground to effectively manage the land and safeguard nature, with other considerations including contributing to insetting and offsetting schemes, contributing to new wildlife corridors and habitats and working with manufacturers on electric vehicles. The ACU are also committed to working closely with Forestry England on a new fees structure to ensure reinvestment into the public forestry asset. 

Mike Seddon, Forestry England Chief Executive said: 

“The nation’s forests have in the past found themselves at the leading edge of motorsports in England. Our review has made it clear to me that we must take the opportunity to become leaders again. 

I’m excited by the chance to reduce the environmental footprint of motorsport and improve its financial support for the forests and local businesses. Perhaps we can bring some new audiences too. 

I know first-hand the passion and support that the motorsport community has for the nation’s forests and we’ve worked together for a long time. This is a strong base from which we can, together, lead the changes necessary to secure the future of motorsports in the nation’s forests. 

Finally, thank you to everyone that took the time to give us their views: some 1,700 individuals and organisations.” 

Roy Humphrey, ACU Chairman said: 

"The ACU are pleased to receive the news that following a review of motorsports on the public forest estate, the CEO of Forestry England has confirmed that a new agreement will be struck to support motorsport into the future.  

“As the recognised Governing body of motorcycle sport, we look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with Forestry England to manage and organise quality events while encouraging access to the nation’s forests. The nation’s forest hold a special place in the hearts of many of our members, so it is incumbent on us to protect and cherish these for future generations."

Over the next five years, we are committed to improving the sustainability and environmental impact of our sports, and will be working with stakeholders, organisers, manufacturers and other forest users to secure our sports into the future.” 

Coronavirus permitting, new applications for events will be accepted from Easter 2021 and they should be submitted in the usual way. The ACU is the only authority permitted to run 2-wheeled motorsport events in the nation’s forests, so if your organisation wants to be part of motorsport’s sustainable future, contact pr@acu.org.uk for further details. 

Photo credit: Anita Gellatly and Paul Gray. 

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