RIDERS of all ages have had the chance to try out a proposed new scrambling circuit.

Hart Council leader Robert Benford hosted the open day on one of his fields in Odiham ahead of submitting a planning application for a new moto park.

Cllr Benford had outlined his plans to district and parish councillors, along with about 100 members of the public, during a presentation in December.

He said the crises in the farming industry had led him and his family to look at other ways of making money at Down Farm, his home.

Cllr Benford said he had looked at a number of diversification schemes at his 400-acre farm, including wind turbines, telecommunications base stations and converting old buildings into offices, but they were either vetoed by the MoD, rejected by DEFRA or rendered impractical by the proximity of the RAF base.

He said: “We believe that our location, expertise and resources provide a unique opportunity to create a national class facility for training, recreation and competition for moto cross riders.

“We believe that this proposal makes a benefit out of the general blight on the area caused by military overflying at RAF Odiham.

“By securing full approval before starting we can provide a first class facility in an appropriate location — something of which the community can be proud and which exists in harmony with its neighbours.”

Cllr Benford said the field chosen for the race circuit was in a valley to minimise the visual and noise impact.

“The field is about 300 metres away from the B3349 to avoid any problems with dust or visual distraction,” he added.

“Most of the time small numbers of riders will be practising, testing, riding for fun or taking part in corporate events.

“There are also possibilities for trials, quad bikes and BMX bikes to use the facility.”

Cllr Benford, pictured on a quad bike, said noise levels would be subject to monitoring by the local authority, which has the power to stop events if guidelines are not met.

But many residents voiced their concerns at the meeting.

“I would say 99% of those there were against it,” said Odiham resident Elynor Gilbert.

“One man got up and said he owned four similar circuits, one of which is in Fleet, so there was no need for another one in the area.”

l See Have Your Say on page 4.