What will you be doing this weekend? Well the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) has said to thousands of motor-sport enthusiasts they will not be participating or spectating at off-road events, such as grass-track racing, trials, enduros and motocross, on fields that farmers have used for generations.
The threat is real with over 180 events already having been cancelled. The threat to these non permanent events is because of the way the Government has introduced a new method of paying agricultural subsidies. Defra has told farmers they will not qualify for an EU farm payment if they allow their land to be used for motor sports.
The new farm subsidy scheme is called the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and replaced the Common Agricultural Policy. The new scheme pays farmers for the land they own and not what they produce.
As ever the UK government has gold plated a European Directive without consulting the people that their decision affects. The directive on agricultural subsidises does not prohibit motorsports on land appropriate for SPS.
Thus by holding farmers and landowners to ransom without proper guidance DEFRA has shown it is a department out of control.
MAG says the solution is simple, DEFRA should revise its guidelines to reflect the European Directive and the department must consult the governing bodies of the sport, the Autocycle Union (ACU), and the Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA), set up to co-ordinate the defense of motor sport and recreation.
MAG Director Of Public Affairs, Trevor Baird, says, "You can support your right to spectate by completing the online petition (www.petitiononline.com/som/) voicing your opposition to legislation that threatens the very heart of grassroots motorsport in Britain."