Kyogle rallies around new race

CONTRARY to popular belief, residents of Kyogle Shire won’t be ‘locked in’ for three days while up to 60 competitors taking part in the World Rally Championships next year whiz past their homes.

That’s the assurance the rally’s organising committee chairman, Gary Connelly, gave to affected residents at a meeting at Kyogle’s Memorial Hall last Friday and follows on from a similar meeting in Murwillumbah on Thursday

The Kyogle meeting was attended by about 120 people, and while there were a number of objections raised about the environmental, social and business impacts of the rally, many details of the event were greeted with overwhelming support.

“We were not going to call for a vote of confidence, or a show of hands, but several members of the audience spoke very strongly about the benefits of the event to the area and urged their fellow residents to get behind the event,” Connelly said.

“Their addresses were greeted with a resounding round of applause.

“My gut feeling is that 95 per cent, or more of the group, overwhelmingly favour the event.”

 If it gains council approval, the rally will be held in Kyogle and Tweed Shires in September next year.
Nineteen of the rally’s 26 stages will be centred around Kyogle, with some of the likely routes up for discussion on Friday.

Residents along Williams Road, Horse Shoe Creek Road, Homeleigh and Sargents Road, Old Cob o’ Corn Road, Hillyards Road, Collins Creek Road, Lynchs Creek Road and Eden Creek Road are likely to be affected, but the final routes have yet to be decided.

“We did release details of where we are planning to go, but that’s not final,” Connelly said.

“There may be some other roads we need to look at, and some that are not suitable, but we did discuss those ones we are reasonably confident about.

“There were some questions from people about school buses, milk pick-ups, getting to work and what happens if people are sick on the day, but we believe that we can adequately address those concerns.”

 Connelly said a couple of the commonly held misconceptions were that residents would be ‘locked in’ in their houses for the three days of the rally and would be kept awake at night

“In most cases, it will be hours rather than days, and it may well be that the road will be closed to the general public, but residents would still have access during certain windows,” he said.

“The other important thing is that it will only be held in daylight hours.”

Connelly admitted some of the people attending Friday’s meeting were against all forms of motor racing as a matter of principle.

“We met privately with some of them beforehand and we do understand that there are some individuals with very strong beliefs about the use of motor vehicles and fossil fuels and we acknowledge that and respect that,” he said.

Race organisers were also concerned about the effect of the rally on wildlife and would have a vet on call at all times and liaise with groups such as the RSPCA and WIRES.

Kyogle council general manager Arthur Piggott stressed the rally wasn’t a done deal just yet.

It was given ‘in principle’ support by the previous council and the current council would need to endorse that view at a meeting later this month.

Rally organisers would then have to submit development applications to Tweed and Kyogle councils by February or March next year.

“Some people will register their protest in writing and it’s important for them to know that council hasn’t actually approved the rally going ahead,” he said.

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