Rally pushing for annual event

Rally Australia chairman Alan Evans is talking up the possibility of having the World Rally Championship event held annually in the Tweed and Kyogle regions.

At the moment they have a contract with the state government to hold five events biannually from 2009-2017.

But a review of the sport by its governing body, the Federation International de la Automobile (FIA), is expected to recommend that more events are held.

Mr Evans said any change was a long way off and “a lot of water has to go under the bridge, but if there is an opportunity to have more events we’d be interested”.

“What we’ve said is that we’d be interested in putting our hands up to hold it as an annual event... we’d need to talk to FIA and the state government about running it every year, (but) there is a fair bit of discussion and negotiation to go on all sides, but certainly from the response we got from the community before and after the event, (I believe) there would be a great deal of support for running it on an annual basis,” he said.

But those who opposed the rally being held in 2009 said they would oppose any move to increase the number of rallies held in the Northern Rivers.

Scott Sledge from the No Rally group said they were still waiting for the state government’s review and “hoping it will demonstrate that it is an inappropriate activity for this area which is highly sensitive environmentally and the social impact was very divisive in the community”.

“We have a long history preserving and protecting the environment, so to have something as destructive and callous as elite motor sports is totally unacceptable. If they are thinking of expanding it, they’d better think about doing it somewhere else. The protests are not going to go away,” he said.

Peter Lanyon from the Seventh Generation group agreed.

“It’s a ridiculous idea for all the reasons having one rally was; this is twice as stupid. Opposition is likely to be greater, more organised, more widespread and more determined,” he said. “The same arguments about disruption to local lifestyles, lack of consultation, damage to the environment... eventually people will say we don’t need this violation of our lifestyles and our air and rallies will be banned. It’s a waste of energy, a waste of fuel, a waste of time and totally divisive for the community.”

But Alan Evans believes opposition to the event was “very small and very vocal”.

“We have addressed most of their concerns; we have addressed the environmental issues, in fact it was probably the most environmentally responsible rally ever run anywhere in the world. The impact on flora and fauna was very minor, in fact the fauna was much safer than at any other time when you look at the roadkill that was recorded during the rally... The roads people told us the roads were in better condition than when we started because of all the work we did.”

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