Motocross community backs farmer

Thursday December 1st 2022


Sheep grazing on the motocross track at Humbie farm.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

The motocross community has come out in support of an East Lothian farmer ordered to remove a racetrack from his land despite claims it could become a major venue for the sport in the future.

James Nisbet has operated a motocross track on different parts of Bughtknowe Farm, Humbie, for 20 years without any need for planning permission.

However complaints from a ‘small number of local residents’ saw East Lothian Council step in over the current track.

And they ruled it was not, as previously accepted, a permitted development and should be removed from the land.

Planning officers said that although the track was only being used for up to 28 days a year – the maximum allowed to avoid needing planning permission – it breached the rule because it could not be removed when not in use.

However agents for Mr Nisbet provided photographs showing sheep grazing on the track when it is not being used and argued it was able to support both racing events and agriculture.

Mr Nisbet has taken his appeal over the enforcement notice to Scottish Ministers and many within the industry have spoken out in support.

Former committee member for the ACU (Autocycle Union) and SACU (Scottish Autocycle Union) M.W. Alberti said the Humbie track could attract National Championship series riders which would benefit the local economy.

He said: “In England, there is a project that is underway where a TV‐famous (& sport recognised) rider has bought and invested his own money into Caistor Motorpark to attract the National Championship series riders – Humbie has the potential to do the same.”

And fellow motocross supporter Alan McClure urged the Reporter investigating the appeal to consider the impact of the sport on children.

He said: “My boys have many friends through this and it has shaped their lives. They have become interested in engineering and are now studying at University.

“One thing you should see before any decision is made, the smiles on the faces of the children and the friendships that are formed.

“Many sports are struggling at the moment and it would be good to see you encourage this venue. The governing body for MX in Scotland is involved so all the correct steps will be taken to ensure the safe running of the facility.”

However local residents who object to the track told the Reporter the vision of the track as an official venue was “terrifying”.

Max and Sarah Ward said: “When the track was operational the noise was completely devastating.

“We are a farming community and the track is completely unacceptable in Humbie. The vision of the owner to have huge open event days was terrifying.”

The track was due to hold events in 2020 but the pandemic hit and it has not been able to reopen to date.

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