Greenies protest against rally

ABOUT 100 people gathered at Uki on Saturday in protest at the Repco Rally Australia, FIA World Rally Championship.

The proposed event, scheduled for September 3-6, comprises 34 competitive “special stages” between Burringbar and Bonalbo, including a modified 2km version of the Speed on Tweed track through Murwillumbah.

One of the protest's initiators Jenny Pearson said rally organisers had not consulted residents about the route, covering 350km of roads in the Tweed and Kyogle shires, or its environmental impacts.

“They really don't know how passionate people here are about the love of their environment,” she said.

“We chose to live in places like this to get away from that culture.”

Ms Pearson, who lives on the proposed route, said the NSW Government had ignored the fact the area was a bio-diversity hot spot.

“The State Government has no right to give millions of dollars to an event that they don't ask the community whether they want it or not,” she said.

“They won't disclose how much money they've given.”

Organisers are also not revealing the top driving speeds, which Ms Pearson has guessed to be between 160 and 260 kilometres an hour.

“To drive that speed through national parks makes us think 'What's the point of having national parks?'.

“The reason they want to come here is because it's the most picturesque from a helicopter.”

Ms Pearson said organisers have given out a limited number of questionnaires.

“They're claiming 90 per cent of people living on the route have been approached and the majority are in favour of the event. It's not true,” she said. “A lot of these properties have multiple occupancies and, on the day, those people are going to arrive at their gate to go out and won't be able to leave.

“They're going to have people put in dangerous situations.”

Representatives from Tweed Shire Council were deputy mayor Barry Longland and Greens party councillor Katie Milne. It is believed there was nobody in attendance from Kyogle Council.

Cr Longland said he was impressed with the turnout.

“Some people there were in favour of the rally for economic benefits but the vast majority was in protest,” he said.

“There was a strong message that the whole rally proposal is incongruent with the Green Cauldron image.”

He said promoting the area overseas as one of Australia's icons as well as a home of high impact motor sports would send a mixed message.

With a Development Application yet to be lodged, Cr Longland said he was unsure where Tweed Council stood.

“It's not for me to have any kind of prejudice one way or another. It's my job to listen to all sides of the argument.”

Cr Longland encouraged people to write to the councils involved and State Government with their concerns.

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