Belfast Telegraph

World class motorsport track for Northern Ireland - rider Irwin voices concerns

By Jill Goligher

Plans have been approved for an international motorsport race track in Northern Ireland which could create 500 jobs.

Mid Ulster District Council rubber-stamped the plans for the development at Coalisland, Co Tyrone. The 57-acre Lake Torrent could become a top venue for regional, national and international competitions.

However, Carrick motorbike rider Glenn Irwin said motorsport enthusiasts should "not get carried away" at the prospect.

The Superbike rider said: "Although it would be another great attraction for Northern Ireland, we already have the capability with Bishopscourt and our other small circuits.

"It would be brilliant but I just hope the people have a knowledge of building a track and what comes along with it.

"The council need to test what we already have, we already have the facilities at Kirkistown and again Bishopscourt," said Mr Irwin.

"The last thing we want is to put all this money into a race track for it to be abandoned and unused.

"For example look at the stadiums that were built in Brazil for the Olympics, they're all derelict now."

Formerly knows as the "clay pits" the council are aiming to host events such as World, and British, Superbike Championships and the British Touring Car Championship, which can attract up to 30,000 spectators.

The track is expected to be a 3.59km circuit, offering 12 turns and a mix of technical and high speed sequences, with associated pit garages, spectator gallery, hospitality facilities and new access and public link roads.

At the council meeting, plans were also approved for new Jaguar and Landrover showrooms for Donnelly Brothers in Dungannon - one of only two new local franchises for the group.

Chair of the Planning Committee, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan said these plans "represent a significant investment in motor sport and the motor trade in the Mid Ulster area."

He commented: "Lake Torrent is a hugely impressive and ambitious proposal which will transform a substantial and unused area of depleted clay pits into a world-class motorsport centre. The proposal represents an initial £29M investment which will create 500 jobs during construction, and 40 full-time positions on an ongoing basis.

"It is anticipated there will be over 500 posts on race days which will provide a significant boost to the local economy of Coalisland, and also be a substantial driver for increasing the number of visitors coming to Mid Ulster.

"I look forward to seeing the vision becoming a reality."

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