Locals in spin over rally
IT'S worth $100 million to the region and the State, but plans to hold one of the world's highest-profile motor racing events on the Northern Rivers has upset some residents.
The NSW Government and the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport this week announced the prestigious FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) World Rally Championship would base itself every second year on Marine Parade, Kingscliff, with parts of the race held around Kyogle, Murwillumbah and Mullumbimby.
News of the race was enthusiastically welcomed by Kyogle mayor Ernie Bennett, who said it could be the boost needed to help the town finally recover from the devastating 2005 Norply fire.
However, the announcement has received a much more mixed response on the Tweed, where it immediately turned into an election issue and triggered concern from residents.
Confederation of Australian Motor Sport and Rally Australia director Peter Marcovich yesterday quipped 'you will always get some people who aren't 100 per cent on side' after meeting with 30 concerned residents at Marine Parade.
Mr Marcovich said up to 20,000 people would come to see the rally on the Northern Rivers and to 'designated spectator points' that would be set up on rural dirt roads. Those roads would be used by up to 90 cars for various stages of the championship.
News of the race was savagely attacked by The Greens' lead candidate on the Tweed, Katie Milne, who described the plan as 'ludicrous'.
“It seems very out of touch with community values. We have that sort of thing with Indy just up the road,” she said.
“It sounds like another grand idea from the State Government, but where is the community consultation?
“We are sick of plans coming from the Government that are totally inappropriate for this area. They don't seem to have any idea how beautiful this area is.”
Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association president Pete Gladwin said he was not 'totally against' the race being held in the region.
“I don't think we can be too precious about keeping people out,” he said.
“I just want to see was a town what we can get out of it.
“If you want to take a holiday it would be a great time to rent your house out.”
Mr Marcovich said the race would satisfy environmentalists.
“We have a very strong environmental policy. We expect zero environmental impact,” he said.
The FIA has a carbon credit program that plants trees in Mexico to compensate for emissions.