Exeter Falcons backer Allen Trump toasts the planning approval that should signal the return of speedway to the city next year MARTIN WHITHAM EE050908_MW01_04
THE Exeter Falcons will fly again in 2009 after club supremo Allen Trump's Haldon vision was given the go-ahead.
Teignbridge District Council has backed Trump's plans to move the Falcons to a purpose-built track at Exeter Racecourse — and he hopes it will be ready to host its first meeting by March next year.
The area's speedway fans have been deprived of their weekly fix for three years, following the closure of their historic County Ground home in St Thomas in 2005.
But Trump has had builders at the ready since his latest application was sent to planners in May — and he wants them to begin building the track by the end of the month.
The good news for Trump comes at the culmination of three years — and more than £25,000 — spent on finding the Falcons a new home.
Trump said: "It's been a crusade for me and I am over the moon that approval has now been given. It's been three years this September since I got involved and throughout all that time it's been an enormous emotional rollercoaster.
"I knew that if I didn't ever achieve this then there was every chance speedway would die forever in Exeter and I couldn't let that happen.
"That was enormous pressure to carry, but it was the fans who helped me through. Whenever I spoke to fans it buoyed me and kept me going.
"So I am just so pleased for everyone that this decision has finally been reached."
The approval was granted on certain conditions, including the monitoring of wildlife around the site, traffic planning for race meetings and guarantees that the track will only be used for speedway racing. But Trump explained that none of the conditions are onerous and, in the end, gaining approval was relatively trouble-free.
"It's great for us because essentially the only obstacle now is ensuring we are able to build the facilities in the time we are hoping for," he said.
"It is the answer we were all hoping for and have been waiting for. And now it's here we are just glad that it's all positive and everything is ready for the go-ahead."
Trump has already applied for the Falcons to compete in the British Speedway Premier League next year.
Exeter will learn whether they will be accepted at a league meeting in November and Trump knows he will need to show his peers evidence of the club's infrastructure by then.
While he is aware of the task ahead, the Falcons stalwart is keen to get started as soon as possible to ensure a smooth ride before next season.
"We're just waiting for a final bit of paperwork from (racecourse owners) the Jockey Club and then we will be in there straight away," he said.
"I wouldn't want to underestimate the magnitude of the task in front of us because effectively we have to construct a track, terracing and buildings within five months.
"But all is positive and looking possible at the moment, so we are feeling confident."
And Trump had a final message for the fans who have been waiting for three years to hear the news.
He said "They have been tremendous. None of them have complained or moaned, they have all just got on with it and this is a great reward for them."
Fans celebrate the imminent return of speedway to the city — see page 11.