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First train arrives at new Ebbw Vale station

The new Ebbw Vale Town Station has officially opened today after the first train to arrive at the station pulled in this morning.

The station is located on the Ebbw Vale to Cardiff line.

The station, which will serve Ebbw Vale town centre, is part of a £11.5m Welsh Government funded project which also includes an extension and speed improvements to the railway track.

It is located on the Ebbw Vale to Cardiff line and will be served by the existing hourly service, with the potential for additional services to be introduced in future.

The new station, delivered by Network Rail, features a brand new station building, 150m platform to fit up to 6 train carriages, car park, CCTV, customer information screens, waiting shelter, help point, ticket machines and bicycle storage.

The existing square will link the station to the main north-south bus routes and the mechanical link up to the town centre. New track has been installed extending the existing railway northwards from Ebbw Vale Parkway, through The Works and up to Ebbw Vale Town.

"This improvement to the Ebbw Vale line will build on the success of the re-opening in 2008 and the recent opening of the new station at Pye Corner. The extension into Ebbw Vale town, along with the new station, will help boost the local economy by making it easier for many more people to travel by train to access jobs, training and education."

– James Jackson, Network Rail Wales

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Public inquiry into Circuit of Wales plans

A public inquiry will be held in June, to consider plans for a £280m racing track in Blaenau Gwent.

The Planning Inspectorate says the planning inquiry will start on 24 June, with its inspector writing a recommendation over whether the development should go ahead.

Developers hope to bring top-level motor racing to Ebbw Vale. Credit: Heads of the Valleys Development Company

Developers say the track will create thousands of jobs, and bring 750,000 visitors to the area each year - but there has been controversy over environmental concerns.

Says Kate Ashbrook, from the Open Spaces Society, said: ‘We objected most strongly to this ugly and intrusive development on a substantial area of common land. We are pleased that, in the light of the objections, the Planning Inspectorate has resolved that there should be a public inquiry."

Race course giant writes to PM over Circuit of Wales

The bosses of the giant Silverstone racecourse have written to the Prime Minister challenging plans for public money to support a multi-million-pound race track near Ebbw Vale. They've claimed that requests for public sector cash to help the Circuit of Wales project could be illegal.

The company behind the scheme, Heads of the Valleys Development wants to create 6,000 jobs on the site. They said any application for support would be in line with existing policy and procedure. Ruth Wignall spoke to motoring journalist Ed Foster about the dispute.

Man dies in Ebbw Vale crash

The crash happened in the early hours of this morning Credit: ITV News

A 23-year-old man has died following a crash in Ebbw Vale in the early hours of this morning.

Gwent Police say the collision, involving a blue MG car, happened on Beaufort Hill, Beaufort, at around 12.50am.

The man, from Abertillery, was the only occupant of the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene. Witnesses are being asked to call 101 quoting log 29 09/02/14.

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Work to start on Circuit of Wales

Plans include a hotel and retail outlets. Credit: Circuit of Wales

Work is due to start on the £280m Circuit of Wales near Ebbw Vale before the end of the year.

The Heads of the Valleys Company, which is leading the project, says agreement's been reached with Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council on its planning application.

Work is due to finish in 2015/16. Credit: Circuit of Wales

Backers say it'll be able host international motor events and includes a 3.5 mile track as well as a Motocross and Karting track and off-road driving facilities.

It's estimated that 750,000 people will visit the facility each year and it's expected to generate £50m a year for the Welsh economy.

Developers say an anticipated 3,000 new jobs will be created during the construction phase, with approximately 6,000 new jobs once the development is complete.

Developers 'await' Welsh Govt call-in decision

The company behind plans to build a race track in Blaenau Gwent says it is "pleased to have reached a positive outcome" after discussions with Natural Resources Wales - and is now waiting for the Welsh Government's decision on whether to call in the proposals.

Throughout the planning process we’ve been committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure we address, as much as possible, the specific concerns they have.

After ongoing discussions with Natural Resources Wales we are pleased to have reached a positive outcome and await further news once the Welsh Government has had sufficient time to consider the responses from stakeholders.

– Michael Carrick, Chief Executive of Heads of the Valleys Development Company

Environmental body withdraws race track objections

Environmental body Natural Resources Wales has withdrawn its objections to plans to build a £280m race track near Ebbw Vale, and told the Welsh Government that it does not need to call in the development for scrutiny.

The proposal for the Circuit of Wales was given outline planning permission by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council last month.

Two weeks ago, the Welsh Government stepped in to put progress on hold, asking for time to consider whether it needed to call in the plans for its own consideration.

Developers say the Circuit of Wales will bring 750,000 visitors per year to the area. Credit: Circuit of Wales - artist's impression

Natural Resources Wales had previously registered concerns about the planned circuit's impact on important habitat for wildlife, the loss of peat from the area, and the impact on the Brecon Beacons National Park, which borders the site.

The environmental body now says it has had "detailed discussions" with developers, and identified specific work, which would need to be included in planning conditions, to mitigate against those concerns. It will continue to work with developers.

Graham Hillier from Natural Resources Wales said: “We have always recognised the importance of this development for the local community. Equally, we would have failed in our statutory duties if we had not raised the concerns about the impact this proposed development could have on the environment."

“Following lengthy discussion with the developers, we have agreed how the potential impacts of this development could be mitigated and the scheme can progress."

Race-track boss: 'We are confident in the plans'

The company behind the plans for the 'Circuit of Wales' race-track say they will work with the Welsh Government to overcome any concerns about the development.

We are very confident in the outline planning application we have submitted and are delighted that we received the unanimous backing of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council in today’s vote. The Welsh Government has asked for more time to look at the project and we’re happy to continue engaging with them and all stakeholders to ensure we address, as much as possible, the specific concerns they have.

– Michael Carrick, Chief Executive of Heads of the Valleys Development Company.
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