Motocross riders say they have been ‘left in limbo’ after the council ordered them to give up their motocross practice track at Ernesettle.
Dave Shears, who has been running the track since last autumn, said he had received a letter from Plymouth City Council telling him to leave the site secure and return the keys.
The track is on land at Ernesettle that has been earmarked for a possible waste incinerator.
Local Labour councillor Mark Lowry said the decision to end the ridrs’ licence ‘smacked of predetermination.
“We’ve been constantly told that no decision has been made on where to build the incinerator, but here’s another finger pointing at Ernesettle,” he said.
“I think the decision has already been made to use the land there.”
Mr Lowry said work on an incinerator would not start for another two years, so there was no reason to shut the motocross track now.
“We are losing a good facility that benefits the people of Plymouth and the community in Ernesettle,” he said.
“Here’s an example of the youth getting up and doing something – and the council is taking it away.”
Mr Shears said: “I always knew it was going to be a short-term lease, and we always knew it could be the site of a waste incinerator.”
He said an official from Plymouth City Council told him he could apply for a new licence after the existing one ran out.
“He said the old licence must finish on September 5, but that the new one could start on, say, September 7.
“The next day a letter came through the post saying that the licence expires on September 5.”
The letter said: “Please leave the site secure and leave the keys with me.”
Mr Shears said he rang the official and was told that council solicitors had expressed concern that they needed to make the site available for prospective contractors to build and run the incinerator.
“I’m in limbo,” he said. “I’ve got machinery there. I need to know what’s happening. I was about to renew my insurance.”
Mr Shears is allowed to operate up to 14 times a year without planning permission.
Around 250 people use the track each time it is open.
A council spokeswoman said: “We are disappointed that this organisation has gone to The Herald, as we always made it clear that they were allowed to use the land on a temporary basis only, with no guaranteed continual use.
“Last September the council granted a licence for 14 motocross events on the site at Ernesettle. This was granted as a goodwill gesture to the organisation.
“The licence has now expired and we are seeking further legal advice on whether to grant a short-term lease.”
Plymouth City Council owns the land on the west side of Ernesettle Lane. It was included on the shortlist of possible incinerator sites drawn up by the South West Devon Waste Partnership, which is responsible for handling all the future domestic rubbish from Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon and has shortlisted three bidders proposing five solutions to manage waste that cannot be recycled.
Four sites have been proposed: at Ernesettle, Devonport’s North and South Yards and New England Quarry.
The waste-handling companies MVV Umwelt and Sita have offered proposals for both Ernesettle and Devonport, and Viridor has put forward its own site at New England Quarry.