Councillors endorse staging finals of the electric race car season
State-of-the-art electric racing cars could be thrilling crowds of spectators in Battersea Park next summer after councillors endorsed the idea of staging the climax of the current Formula E championship season in the park next June.
Councillors at the community services scrutiny committee approved the concept of hosting Formula E’s title decider in the park, subject to planning permission and approval from the motor racing world’s governing body the FIA.
Councillors backed proposals that would see Formula E stage two races in the park over a weekend in June 2015.
If the event does not have an adverse effect on the park and races are staged there over the next five years, Battersea Park could receive around £1m of investment from Formula E, which would be spent on improving and maintaining it. Additional revenue may also be received by the town hall from the sale of tickets and TV rights.
Councillors only gave the proposals their blessing after hearing that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) had concluded that the event was appropriate for the park, as long as certain guarantees could be secured. The committee was told that all of the HLF’s requirements would be fully met.
Approval from the HLF was a key consideration because the organisation paid for an extensive range of improvements to the park between 1998 and 2003.
Councillors were also told that if planning approval is given for the races to be staged, it may be possible to keep a section of the park open for non-ticket holders. This would ensure that local people who wanted to visit the park that weekend would still be able to do so.
The council’s environment spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “This is a great opportunity for Battersea to host a major global sporting event. I am sure that many people living locally will be thrilled at the prospect of watching these exciting racing cars in action in the park.
“The organisers behind Formula E are at the cutting edge of electric car technology. The power units in their racing cars today are likely to be fitted as standard in the electrically powered family cars of tomorrow and we are keen to help support advances in this important environmental technology. We also want to give our backing to the globally important British motor racing industry that generates many thousands of jobs in the UK’s engineering sector.
“We are delighted that having discussed this in detail with the HLF they have concluded that the park is an acceptable venue provided that certain conditions are met. Many of these are issues we had previously identified ourselves and will be able to address, so we are confident that the HLF will be perfectly satisfied with our arrangements.
“What is of paramount importance to ourselves, the HLF and other partner organisations is that nothing is done that will cause harm or damage to the park and its important historical features.
“If the races do obtain planning permission and do get the go-ahead then we will explore the options for keeping part of the park open for members of the public who aren’t racing fans and aren’t interested in Formula E.”
If planning consent is given, the race would feature twenty drivers competing on a circuit that incorporates the park’s existing perimeter tarmac roads.
A test drive in a fully fledged Formula E racing car was carried out along this route at 5am on August 14th by current championship leader Lucas di Grassi. Because the racing cars have an electric motor and emit very little noise, no-one living nearby complained about being woken up despite the very early hour and the fact that many windows would have been left open overnight at that time of the summer.
The organisers’ proposals include a speedy process for the installation and removal of safety barriers around the proposed course, thereby reducing the physical impact on the park and minimising disruption to its normal everyday use. The removal of most of the Formula E infrastructure once the races have finished is not expected to take longer than two days.
December 19, 2014