GREENS councillor Kate Milne addresses a crowd of about 100 protesters at Uki on Saturday.
GREENS councillor Kate Milne addresses a crowd of about 100 protesters at Uki on Saturday.

Frogs force rally off course

ORGANISERS of the upcoming world car rally championship in Tweed and Kyogle have done their bit to help save an endangered frog living in the forest near Mt Warning.

They have re-routed the proposed rally, set for September, away from an isolated bridge in Cadell Road through Wollumbin National Park after being told the rare giant barred frog lived under it and could be affected in the unlikely event of an accident on the bridge.

Repco Australia Rally general manager Gary Upson revealed the lengths his organising committee had gone to in order to help save the frog when he addressed a monthly breakfast meeting of the Murwillumbah District Business Chamber yesterday.

“We have already changed our route,” he said. “One stage was going to travel along Byrrill Creek Road (west of Mt Warning) and down Cadell Road.

“But there is an endangered species of frog, the giant barred frog, under a bridge.

“We've employed an expert, Dr Steve Phillips of Biolink (in Murwillumbah). He said while the potential (of an accident) is minor the impact could be substantial. Therefore the rally will not travel down that road.”

According to the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change the mostly brown giant barred frog, grows to 115mm in length. It forages and lives among deep, damp leaf litter in rainforests, moist eucalypt forest and nearby dry eucalypt forest and breeds around shallow, rocky streams.

Mr Upson said rally organisers were trying to meet the environmental concerns raised by a “vocal minority” of objectors but warned “there's a lot of hysteria out there about the rally.”

He said some objectors had claimed at a protest meeting in Uki on Saturday that rally cars would travel at up to 260km/h endangering wildlife including koalas.

“V8 super-cars at Bathurst get up to about 290km/h. There is no way in the world our cars are going to get to 260km/h,” he said.

“There is no desire from our guys to run a koala over. We want to be good citizens.”

Mr Upson said speeds on many stages of the rally would be limited to 70 or 80 km/h with the crew fined 50 Euros for each kilometre-per-hour over the limit.

On the second offence the fine would double and on the third the team would be “kicked out” of the rally.

Chamber of Commerce president Phil Youngblutt said he believed half of those at Saturday's meeting were “professional protestors and the others came to see what they look like - whether they have two heads or not”.

Uki-based arts co-operative spokeswoman, Kalia from Ukitopia, told the business chamber her 80-member group was “looking forward to the rally because we see opportunities for people and our artists”.



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