Rally talk begins on Coffs Coast
THE lessons learned from the Northern Rivers fiasco last year are already playing out in the planning for next year’s World Rally Championships Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast.
Motor sport aficionados have allowed much more time for rally stakeholders and residents to have an input into decision making and significantly, conservation and green groups are being included in discussions from the outset. It comes after the 2009 World Rally Australia in the Tweed was plagued by environment-based anti-rally protests.
Already the Homebush Motor Racing Authority – the State Government statutory racing authority – has commenced community consultation for the Coffs Coast September world rally.
This will give the State Government agency six months longer to gauge feedback than occurred in the Tweed.
A priority has also been placed on meeting with key groups such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Aboriginal Lands Council and the Environmental Protection Regulatory Authority early in the planning stages.
“We have spoken with major stakeholders and all the talks have been positive at this stage,” HMRA chief executive Bryan Hardman said yesterday.
“The major hurdles have been overcome, we have in-principle support, and there are no objections subject to more details being released on the rally routes in January-February.
“The main thing is we are allowing more time for community consultation.
“Coffs Harbour has been a home to a round of the national rally for over 40 years, so we don’t expect the opposition it received in the Northern Rivers.”
Rally Australia is now circulating letters to property owners living close to proposed routes, indicating there will be brief road closures over September 8-11, next year.
“We have a rough idea of the rally routes, they are 95 per cent locked in, but they won’t be made official until early next year,” Mr Hardman said.
“What I can say is that individual stages will be held in each of the four council areas.
“The routes will be finalised based on community consultation and if we hear of any major concerns or serious issues we’ll look at the options.”
Motor sport officials are in regular discussion with the four hosting councils, from the Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca Heads.