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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 16:59 GMT
Motocross objectors claim victory
Motocross bikes
It is said the centre will reduce illegal off-road motor biking
Plans by Wales' leading motocross rider to create a purpose built centre for off-road bikers in the Garw Valley have been refused by planners.

Mark Jones wanted to create a track to train up and coming youngsters and said it would tackle illegal off-roading.

Objectors from Pontycymer and Blaengarw protested before the meeting at the council offices in Bridgend.

They claimed it would cause noise pollution, environmental damage and make illegal biking in the area worse.

Councillors visited the site on reclaimed colliery land on the valley side of the Cwm Garw Fechan before Thursday's meeting.

Mr Jones, currently ranked in the top 10 riders in the UK, said the centre would have had both adult and children's tracks along with car park, workshop and training rooms.

But petitions along with individual letters of objection were submitted.

Garw Valley
The amount of damage off-road bikes create is quite incredible
John Hibberd

One of those opposed to the centre, John Hibberd, believed it would increase illegal riding in the area.

He added: "Since the four collieries in the valleys closed, 4.5m has been spent on landscaping and it has improved the valley greatly.

"The amount of damage off-road bikes create is quite incredible."

It was also opposed by the local community council on the grounds of noise nuisance and the Garw Valley Angling Association.

In its submission the association said the Garw Fechan river was an important spawning area for game fish.

"The churning up of the ground, both on the mountain top and in the valley, is detrimental to the environment," it added.

"Bad feeling"

But Mr Jones said it would be a well-run professional training facility, working with young up and coming Welsh racers to prepare them for a career in the sport.

He said it would also help local young people and off-road motor bikers by allowing subsidised entry, safety training and workshops.

Speaking before the meeting he said: "There are many possibilities for good work to be carried out and the project has a huge amount of support from a lot of local residents and the local authority.

"It has been such a shame that the bad feeling for this project has manifested into a protest group.

"We have worked closely with the council as well as the Forestry Commission to ensure that the noise won't be heard, the biodiversity of the area will not be affected and that any waterways from the site will not carry any pollution to the rivers."



SEE ALSO
Beach ban prompts bikers appeal
10 May 06 |  North West Wales
Opposition forces off-road U-turn
07 Apr 06 |  South West Wales
Opposition to off-road bike track
27 Feb 06 |  South West Wales

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