Residents win small speedway victory
North Lismore woman Val Axtens spoke on behalf of residents who were overwhelmingly against any increase in speedway activity, and in favour of the staff recommendation that any increase should require a development application to be lodged.
Ms Axtens, who moved to North Lismore in 1982, said she opposed the increase not only because of the extra noise, but because it devalued real estate in the area and was in conflict with council's plan to develop the North Lismore plateau for future housing development.
"I knew the speedway was at the showground and while I may have complained to my long-suffering family, I did not complain to council because I believe in giving people who enjoy the speedway a fair go," she said.
"But I think giving 10 days' notice of an increase to speedway activities is not a fair go. This is insufficient time to prepare or present our reaction and throws doubt on this council's commitment to public consultation."
Speedway promoter David Lander had originally requested an increase to 20 events per year, but sensing it would not be acceptable to the community, Cr John Chant moved instead that the council increase it to 16, without the need for a development application.
However, Cr Jenny Dowell said a line had to be drawn somewhere.
"North Lismore residents are a very tolerant lot. They have lived with the speedway for many years and have been willing to put up with it or have to go out on the nights when it is on, but this is just pushing it too far," she said.
Cr Dowell was concerned any increase would lead to unnecessary friction between residents and speedway users.
"People are going to start looking at the conditions of consent and measuring noise levels. Up until now they have not complained when breaches have occurred, but this is their line in the sand," she said.
Cr Ros Irwin was concerned the promoter could not be trusted to stick to a limit of 16, given he had already gone outside his current consent limit this season.
Cr Chant said he had been heavily involved with the speedway in the 1980s, when 5000 people regularly turned up for events.
He said in those days there where no time or noise regulations, and he believed the speedway had come a long way in terms of accommodating the needs of its neighbours.
He argued the increase was needed so the promoter could bring the Australian Super Sedan Championships to Lismore in February, which would be good for local businesses.
Ms Axtens said she was 'relatively happy' with the compromise position. "I'm deaf in one ear and put a plug in the other, and hope to ignore it," she said.