At the Council Planning Committee on 25th November, El Brute planning bods were unable to decide whether Twickenham Stadium can host a Monster Jam event next summer. A decision on the plan was deferred amid discussions on CO2 emissions and pollution. Observant twickerati types may already feel as though Twickenham is heaving with Monster trucks during the school run, but the RFU has applied for a change of use for their stadium as Monster Truck racing falls without the definition of ‘sporting event’. In association with Field Entertainment, the one-time cabbage patch may host the event in the summer of 2016 with a crowd of up to 62,000 people.
Objections to the application centred around the noise that may be created by the vehicles while racing round a dirt track specially created in the stadium bowl. Residents were also worried about the ‘static showcase’ situated outside the stadium in the north car park, where amplified music will be played during the event. Some of the 49 objections to the planning application (which can be seen here) refer to an audience of ‘petrol heads’, who are notorious for heavy drinking and noise. Quite how these people differ from those who hold tailgate picnics from their Range Rovers during rugby matches is unclear. Anxiety over unbearable noise and copycat drag racing was countered by a commenter who said that the profile of a typical Monster Jam audience is 5-10 year olds, off their heads on a lethal cocktail of fizzy pop and Tangfastics. And yet the stadium has hosted cars racing around it before, although previously it was the BBC Top Gear team, playing ‘car rugby’… and just look what happened to them.
The event which is planned to last two and half hours on a Saturday afternoon will contain 12 four-ton trucks some 15 feet high with 8.5L engines producing over 1500bhp. The application contains a noise assessment that proposes that the sound from the event on the Whitton Road should be no louder than usual traffic. Given that the review says there will be 12 Monster truck races lasting up to 18 seconds each, one wonders what happens for the other 146 minutes. What isn’t clear from the application is the environmental impact on the local conservation area of the lower Crane valley and the Duke of Northumberland River.
Earlier this month the RFU announced a new partnership with the US National Football League to bring up to five NFL games to the stadium over the next three years. The first match is scheduled for 23 October 2016 with the St Louis Rams playing — likely just one or two weeks before the Autumn Internationals start.
Is this all this US themed entertainment sounding more and more like Twickenham, Alabama than Twickenham, Middlesex? While there is no doubt that the RFU is trying to recoup some its £76 million investment in upgrades to the stadium, it does start to feel that it is trying to host an event whenever there isn’t rugby on. Surely that’s something which can only stretch the accord between the Union and Twickenham residents.
The committee deferred its decision to a subsequent meeting pending more information on carbon emissions and pollution under the Council’s Core Policy on Sustainability. To be continued…
* LBRuT Planning Page
[Contributor: Bill Webb-Ellis]