THE first sod is due to be cut on a new world-class race track in Coalisland next week, the Courier can reveal.
Work is due to start next week, with the ceremonial first sod due to be cut on Wednesday, 20th September.
The Courier exclusively revealed the exciting plans when they were first revealed 18 months ago, and it is anticipated the track will be complete within 12 months of the commencement of works.
To be known as Lake Torrent, the 57 acre site, formerly known as the 'clay pits' is to attract regional, national and international competitions, including the British Touring Car Championship and World Super Bikes.
The track will be 3.59km long, offering 12 turns and a mix of technical and high speed sequences, with associated pit garages, spectator gallery, hospitality facilities and and new access and public link roads.
MP for the area, Sinn Fein's Francie Molloy, has expressed his delight at seeing the ambitious plans received the green light from planners.
He said: "It is very welcome that it has received planning approval - it is a great project.
"I have been promoting it from the start and see great potential for tourism and economic development in Coalisland.
"The hinterland will benefit too because even one hotel wouldn't satisfy the needs in the area for big events when up to 30,000 people could be in attendance."
The firm behind the scheme, Larne-based Manna Developments, also plan to bring engineering workshops to the site so it is well used outside of race events, with the aim of serving the very strong engineering presence in the Mid-Ulster area.
Mr Molloy said the site had previously been suggested to the former Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council as a potential investment, but that didn't happen, and he stated his pleasure that Manna Developments has stepped in.
He said: "We first put this forward to Dungannon Council as an opportunity and they didn't buy it, but thankfully David Henderson (of Manna Developments) was looking for a site and he was able to get through.
"They have had to jump through hoops with the planning and they have come through them all and they are hoping the track will be finished within 12 months.
Dungannon based estate agents Maneely & Co are part of the team working on the scheme and the firm has stated its excitement at seeing the project be waved on to the starting grid.
They said: "This is genuinely one of the biggest projects to come to Northern Ireland in many years and we are very pleased to be marketing and letting agents for the development.
"There were many who didn't believe it would ever happen and that such a scheme would never come to Coalisland. Let us assure you, this is happening."
At the same meeting as Lake Torrent race track was formally approved by Mid-Ulster District Council's Planning Committee, planning approval was also granted for new Jaguar and Land Rover showrooms for Donnelly Brothers in Dungannon.