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Brands Hatch surprised at public inquiry

Brands Hatch officials have admitted they are surprised that a public inquiry has been called to decide whether the Kent track can get the go ahead for redevelopment work.

Plans to hold the 2002 British Grand Prix now look unlikely because the inquiry could take months or even years.

The Government planning minister Nick Raynsford said an inquiry had been called because the circuit is located in protected green belt land. But Brands Hatch officials admitted that the decision has come as a major surprise.

A spokesman for Brands Hatch Leisure said: "Given the historic reputation of Brands Hatch as the home of motorsport in the UK, we are surprised that the planning permission required to see the return of the British Grand Prix back at Kent has been called in by the government."

The decision now leaves Donington Park, owned by the Brands Hatch Leisure Group, which has expensive redevelopment plans of its own, the likely favourite to take it over.

Meanwhile, Silverstone, which loses the lease to host the event after 2001, has received the thumbs-down from FIA vice-president Bernie Ecclestone after he launched an attack on the Northamptonshire circuit.

Ecclestone said: "Silverstone is like an old house. It is not just the case of it needing a lick of paint. It needs pulling down and re-building."

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