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Horse Racing: Musselburgh to argue case for AW track at public enquiry.

MUSSELBURGH has decided to forcibly argue its case for an pounds 11 million all-weather track at a public enquiry, which is expected to be held at the end of the year, writes Paul Binfield.

The Scottish course announced a week ago that its plans for a floodlit track had been "called in" by the Scottish Executive.

Scottish ministers have decided that despite the venture having gained planning permission from East Lothian Council, the project should be considered at a public enquiry.

Musselburgh general manager Bill Farnsworth stated at the time that he was "surprised and extremely disappointed" at the decision, and the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee, which manages the racecourse, has now voted unanimously to present its case for the redevelopment at that enquiry.

Despite describing the extra costs involved in an enquiry as "unwelcome", chairman of the MJRC Pat O'Brien intends to put forward the committee's views on the many economic, social and sporting benefits of the scheme.

He said: "We welcome the chance to present the facts of the case to an independent arbiter who will assess the application on its merits.

"We believe passionately that this project will benefit not only our racecourse but Musselburgh town, East Lothian, Scottish tourism and the wider racing industry."

However, the reconstruction has been described as the most unpopular planning application in the town's history, with more than 400 people attending the planning committee meeting on March 16.

The project faces objections from golfers as well as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and nearby lagoons are a designated special protection area and site of special scientific interest.

The 'calling in' of the project was the second severe body blow to allweather racing in the space of eight days, following Newbury's decision to delay their plans for an all-weather track that was intended to open in October.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 15, 2006
Words:308
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