About 300 people packed Fleet's Harlington Centre to show their opposition to the application when Hart Council's development control committee discussed it last Wednesday night.

They left delighted after hearing a string of councillors attack the scheme, put forward by former Hart Council leader Robert Benford.

He wanted to build the race circuit on his 400-acre farm near RAF Odiham but the development control com-mittee unanimously opposed the application, following a massive public outcry.

About 450 people packed a public meeting at Lord Wandsworth College, Long Sutton, to discuss the application in April.

Odiham, Greywell, Long Sutton and Well, South Warnborough and Upton Grey parish councils all unanimously opposed the moto park plan.

South Warnborough resident Graham Roberts led the call for refusal at the development control com-mittee meeting.

Speaking on behalf of the five parish councils, the hundreds of people who attended the public meeting, the 480 residents who sent in objection letters and the 400 people who signed a petition, Mr Roberts said the plan would ruin an open field in an outstanding area of natural beauty.

He said that, if granted, the race track could be used seven days a week and at weekends, and could attract scores of riders, about 200 supporters and around 100 cars, trailers and other vehicles.

Mr Roberts pointed out the application contravened 23 Hart Council policies and would blight the area.

He warned the noise of the bikes would far exceed the noise of the nearby Chinook helicopters and warned oil and fuel from the bikes would pollute the River Whitewater.

Mr Roberts said the fields were regularly flooded and there was no local demand for the circuit.

"Any granting of this application will be vigorously rejected by the people I am representing," concluded Mr Roberts to loud applause from the residents.

Cllr David Simpson said another reason for refusal could be overwhelming public concern.

"I do not remember a time when the letters of objection have exceeded the numbers signing a petition," he said.

Cllr Sarah Wallis, who represents Long Sutton, said her whole village was against the application, which would have a major effect on people living in Ford Farm.

"We need to preserve what is not just a wonderful corner of Hart but what is a wonderful corner of England," she said to loud applause.

Cllr Sean Holden said he lived two-thirds of a mile from a similar racetrack at Winchfield and the noise was immense.

"We are talking about peoples lives here," he said, adding: "We have to reject this."

Cllr Stephen Gorys said: "This is not in a traffic friendly environment.

"It is down a single track lane and will have a substantial impact on the countryside."

When committee chairman Norman Lambert asked if any councillor wanted to speak for the application, no-one did.

Twelve councillors voted for refusal, while one abstained.

After the meeting, Cllr Benford said: "I think we lost that round to the objectors.

"The market research we did quite clearly shows that the objectors do not reflect public opinion.

"Of the 232 houses we surveyed at RAF Odiham, 66% were in favour, 6% were against and the rest were indifferent.

"That's what I thought would be the case and that's why we pursued it this far.

"I think it's something the majority of people want to see in the area.

"The technical arguments we put forward fully justified a grant.

"We will see what the decision notice says and see what we will do next.

"We will either appeal or put in another application which addresses the objectors' concerns.

"We've got an uphill struggle but we are clearly not thinking about giving up."

Cllr Benford said a number of people who did go to the meeting were upset that there was a police presence before and after the meeting.

"That just illustrates the gulf of misunderstanding by the objectors," he said.

"They were expecting hundreds of bikers from North Warnborough but that was simply not the case.

"I've never seen a hint of a policeman at a moto cross meeting, let alone at a planning meeting.

"I think it was a waste of public money."