Airport to provide Rally home

THE Coffs Harbour International Airport will be home to the service centre for the 2011 FAI World Rally Australia.

Details of the international motor sport event to be held next year in September were released at a community consultation meeting at Opal Cove yesterday.

The ‘all agency meeting’ involved 40 local representatives from the emergency services and government departments and was chaired by the NSW Premier’s department and the Homebush Motor Racing Authority.

“We can confirm the competition for the World Rally Australia will be held over a length of 360 kilometres and stages will be run from Nambucca to Coffs Harbour and the Clarence Valley,” HBMRA chief executive Bryan Hardman said.

“The Thursday will see the rally drivers interact with the public at a series of events, before three days of competition on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Further to that there will be two to three spectator points throughout the stages and the World Rally service centre will be located at the northern end of the airport based around the private runway hangars.

“Of course there won’t be any impact on air services using the airport.”

Mr Hardman said the locations of the stages would be “locked-in” in January, but already more than 300 letters had been circulated by Rally Australia to property owners near the proposed routes.

“So far all the feedback we have received has been 100 per cent positive, with no objections,” he said.

“Given there was a groundswell of opposition to the World Rally in the Northern Rivers last year, we don’t want to see rumour and innuendo impact on the Coffs Coast event, so we’re hoping to meet with concerned environmental groups, if there are any, sooner rather than later.”

Yesterday’s meeting involved the Roads and Traffic Authority, NSW Forests, National Parks and Wildlife, police, NSW fire, rural fire and ambulance services, along with the hosting councils from Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Nambucca and the Clarence Valley.

“A follow-up meeting will be held in Coffs Harbour on January 19 to allow the agencies to raise any specific concerns they might have regarding the world rally.”

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