Environmentalists fight Repco Rally organisers
THE lines were drawn between environmentalists and pro-rally supporters when up to 300 people turned up to a community consultation meeting held by Repco Rally organisers in Kyogle on Saturday.
The Kyogle Memorial Hall was the venue for what was at times a heated debate between pro-rally supporters and residents opposing the rally being staged on some sections of the proposed route, mostly due to concerns about wildlife.
Repco Rally chairman Garry Connelly claimed the rally, due to be held in Kyogle and Tweed shires in September, had strong environmental credentials, citing a commitment to plant thousands of hectares of trees in Mexico to offset the event's carbon footprint.
Mr Connelly said the event would have a lower carbon footprint than an international game of cricket.
The rally had also hired environmental scientist Dr Stephen Phillips to conduct an assessment of the event's impact on the environment, Mr Connelly said.
“Whatever he says, subject to peer review, we will do,” he said.
The discussion was dominated by questions based on environmental concerns. However, pro-rally supporters said the rally would provide important economic and tourism opportunities for Kyogle with Mr Connelly promising the event would bring $20 million to the region.
“This rally should be supported because it will be good for the whole of Kyogle,” one supporter said.
Other supporters appeared exasperated by the concerns of the environmentalists.
“Go back to Nimbin, stoke up your bong, you won't even see it go past,” a man who identified himself as a Simes Road resident said.
The man also called into question the right of some residents to object to the rally because they, unlike him, had not been born in Kyogle.
His assertion was responded to by Kylie Costello who said she was at the meeting with her eight-week-old daughter who was a third generation hippy.
“The hippies have been here for almost 40 years now,” she said, before calling on everyone to focus on common ground.
At the end of the meeting there was a small fracas which resulted in a complaint being made to police when Barkers Vale man Rusty Harris claimed one of the pro-rally supporters had kicked him.
A development application will be lodged with Kyogle Council soon.