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Noise a threat to British GP future
Yorkshire's Croft racing circuit has been ordered to pay $1.2m after being found guilty of noise pollution. The ruling could result in the closure of the facility and could have knock-on effects on other racing circuits in Britain.

Croft Aerodrome has hosted races since the 1920s and, after serving as a bomber base during World War II, was used intermittently for racing between 1949 and 1957. In July 1962 Robert Ropner, the owner of the aerodrome, applied for a change of use to allow racing and permission was granted in August 1963 for no more than 20 racing days a year until 1979. Between 1982 and 1994 there was no racing at Croft apart from some rallycross. In 1989 the claimants' residences were developed from derelict buildings. Then in 1994 Croft Classic and Historic Motorsport Ltd was established to redevelop the circuit. Permission was granted for the track to host 37 race days, 24 exclusive test days and 120 days when the track would be used for other purposes. There was a public inquiry in 1996 and eventually it was agreed that the circuit could host activities on 230 days of the year, with different levels of noise being allowed. Major upgrading work was done in 1997 and since then the circuit has attracted both the British Touring Car Championship and British Superbikes.

The claimants say that they are not trying to have the track closed but simply want less noise. The decision is not likely to be greeted with any job by the local hotels, pubs, bed and breakfasts and shops which will all suffer if the circuit shuts.

A spokesman for Croft Promosport Ltd, said: "We are extremely disappointed with the Court of Appeal's decision in relation to the recent High Court judgment, which has serious implications for the circuit and the motor racing industry generally."

The key question is whether the Croft decision will have any legal implications for other British racing facilities, particularly Donington Park, where work has begun to upgrade the circuit for Formula 1 in 2010. British Common law is based on precedent and legal decisions affect the law that is applied in future cases. If such a decision were to be applied to Donington Park there could be dangers for the British GP. More at Grandprix.com

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