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Racecourse re-routes all-weather plans


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HUNDREDS of trees, including a strip of ancient woodland, could be in jeopardy if amendments to plans for an all-weather track at Newbury Racecourse get the green light.
The racecourse was originally granted planning permission for the track, which would have been accommodated inside the existing flat and chase course, in October 2003.
But recent consultation with the Jockey Club Inspectorate and the British Horseracing Board (BHB) has revealed that the new course would not comply with the minimum radiuses required for racing.
In addition, reports revealed that “the existing levels across the track throughout the back straight mean that the new track could not be constructed without unacceptable amendments to the existing turf”.
Now the racecourse has applied for permission to move the all-weather track to the outside of the existing courses, which will encroach on the ancient woodland, commercial poplar plantations, young woodland and semi-mature copse at the back of the course.
The track would intrude seven metres further south, meaning a strip of Young's copse – designated ancient woodland because it has been in existence since at least 1600 – would have to be removed.
As well as impacting on the screening between the course and adjacent housing developments, environmental reports have suggested the plans could also have an effect on wildlife, including nearby badger sets.
At a meeting of Greenham Parish Council last week, councillors unanimously rejected the scheme, saying the plans did not show the proximity of nearby housing.
They also believed that the changes would have a considerable impact on the amenity of local residents, and that it could make the development of the racecourse unsustainable.
Parish councillor Alan Agutter commented: “Perhaps they should sue the advisors who told them to put the track there in the first place.”
The installation of an all-weather track would considerably raise the profile of the racecourse and would make it the only track in Europe to offer an all-weather straight mile.
A spokesman for the racecourse said: “We want to stress how important the all-weather track is to the course and its future.
“We're carrying out further technical work to address the issues that have been raised. We're looking into it and responding to the concerns.”

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