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Rally organisers slam critics

ORGANISERS of the World Rally Championship race in the Tweed are fighting back against green opposition, saying the event will be environmentally friendly.

Repco Rally Australia organising committee chairman Garry Connelly yesterday said the World Rally Championship round - to be held from September 3 to September 6 - had substantial community support and would bring major benefits to the Tweed and Kyogle shires.

He said critics also ignored the fact that the rally was taking a world-leading approach to environmental issues.

“It's clear from our public and private meetings, the letters we receive and the resident surveys we have conducted so far that there is tremendous support and anticipation for the plan to bring a world-class sports event to the region,” he said.

“People want this rally because it will put a highly-favourable focus on the region's natural attractions and bring a big boost to the economy.”

Mr Connelly said some rally critics were choosing to ignore world-class environmental initiatives that had already been foreshadowed at recent public meetings.

“We have taken a more responsible approach than most sporting and recreational events in Australia, if not the world,” he said.

“This includes a plan to buy carbon offsets from a New South Wales source sufficient, when combined with those purchased by the FIA world motorsport governing body, to cover virtually everything associated with the rally - from competitors' cars to spectator traffic to the power consumed in running our buildings.

“We will be asking international teams to purchase carbon offsets for their flights and will be following the environmental principles practised for many years by the FIA.”

Rally organisers are still to lodge development applications with both councils despite making preparations to bring contestants and their cars from across the world.

Former West Australian tourism minister Mark McGowan yesterday told North Coast ABC radio his government stopped sponsoring the event in his state in 2005 for financial reasons which included a relatively low return on investment for taxpayers.