The Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCI) has learned that the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has changed rules for farmland Single Payment Scheme (SPS) subsidies which had threatened to act as an effective ban of off-road motorsport.
The change means that motor and motorcycle sports can continue on agricultural land under existing 14/28 day rules. The new rules amount to a U-turn by DEFRA in the face of stiff lobbying and legal action by concerned motorsport organisations and the MCI.
On behalf of the MCI and other motorsport groups, the Land Access and Recreational Association (LARA) had commenced legal action against DEFRA on May 13th. Within a few hours of papers being issued, DEFRA opted to change the SPS rules in line with demands from the industry and motorsport lobby.
A DEFRA press release stated: "Announcing a revision today to the rules governing the use of agricultural land for motor sports during the 10-month qualifying period under the Single Payment Scheme, Lord Bach, Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food, said:
"DEFRA received a number of representations from motor sport interests following the issue of new guidance on 29 March. Having considered these, I am happy to announce the publication of updated guidance which now provides for motor sports to take place on up to 28 days during farmers' 10-month eligibility period on land used in support of 2005 Single Payment claims. Guidance for 2006 and beyond will be reviewed in the light of experience of this first year of the Single Payment Scheme. "
MCI is delighted with DEFRA's change of heart and the MCI's Craig Carey-Clinch said, "This is a magnificent result for common sense and the way is clear for off-road motorcycle sport to go ahead in 2005. The MCI is particularly grateful to LARA's Alan Kind for the legal and technical effort he has put into dealing with this issue.
"Unfortunately some damage has already been done, with many planned events already cancelled because of the original SPS rules. It is hoped that many of these can now go ahead, but MCI will continue to monitor the situation in partnership with LARA members and respond as appropriate."