Big_Text_TITLE,...,KC_National_Parks_region MapThe organisers of Repco Rally Australia, the Australian round of the FIA World Rally Championship, have announced the preferred route for the 3-6 September event in the New South Wales Northern Rivers.

The rally will comprise 35 competitive special stages totalling 340 kilometres in the Tweed and Kyogle Shires.

The organisers have now received in either draft or final form all reports required to lodge the necessary applications with various authorities.

These reports will be released to the public as they are finalised over the next seven to 10 days.

The route has only been confirmed by the Organising Committee following receipt of the preliminary Ecological Assessment Report on 4 May.

The extensive and detailed report essentially approved the route from the viewpoint of ecological impact.

“Our preferred route has taken into account the views of the community, the very detailed reports from an outstanding team of independent experts and our desire to present a spectacular motor sport event for the region,” Organising Committee Chairman Garry Connelly said.

“The Organising Committee has consulted extensively with the local community, particularly those who are directly affected by the Special Stages that are being used, and with consultants who are experts in their respective fields.

“The objective has been to cause minimal environmental impact and inconvenience to people who live within the area.

“It satisfies our sporting requirements and showcases the best terrain elements of the region.

“It should look fantastic to the worldwide television audience and be challenging to the competing teams, befitting a World Championship event.”

The route still requires local council ratification, but Mr Connelly said the organisers had elected to announce it now so that authorities such as police, ambulance, RTA, fire and others could progress their planning.

It also was essential information for residents and spectators.

“The consultations have included contact with the majority of people who live along the route, whose views we understand,” Mr Connelly said.

“We have held public meetings, visited almost 400 homes along the route and spoken to the residents of those homes who were present at the time, or left messages for those who were not home asking them to contact us.

“We have also received a number of letters from interested parties who have made pertinent comments about the proposed route. Any relevant comments have been passed on to our specialist consultants, but particularly to Dr Steven Phillips.

“We have been keeping very accurate statistics on the resident visits. A majority supports the event, some are neutral and a small number are strongly opposed.

“We have considered all the views put to us by residents and the broader community and reconciled them with the advice of our expert consultants in determining the route.”

The route was prepared by the senior sporting official of Repco Rally Australia, Dr Michelle Gatton.

Questions and Answers

Q:  Is the route now final?
A: It is our final preferred option but is still subject to approval by the two councils. It satisfies our sporting requirements and showcases the best terrain elements of the region, meaning that it should look fantastic to the worldwide television audience and be challenging to the World Championship teams.

Q: Why have you waited until now to release it?
A: We had to wait until we received the initial Ecological Assessment Report. We received, that on May 4.  It is very extensive and detailed and essentially approved the route itself from the point of the ecological impact. So after examining that, and our other reports, we were able to take a final decision that the route was the best possible having due regard for the environment and the sport.

Q: Is planning going ahead on the assumption that the route published on the website will be the final route?
A: Yes, because we have to release information for spectators and for corporate facilities plus the authorities such as police, ambulance, RTA, fire and so on, so they can make their plans for the event.

Q: Have you taken into account the feedback from the community and the reports of your expert consultants?
A: Definitely yes!  That is why this has taken so much time.  We have held a number of public meetings, but we have also received a number of letters from interested parties who have made pertinent comments about the proposed routes.  Any relevant comments have been passed on to our specialist consultants, but particularly to Dr Stephen Phillips.  We have also visited almost 400 homes along the route and spoken to the residents of those homes who were present at the time, or left messages for those who were not asking them to contact us.  So we have had contact with the majority of people who live along the route and we understand their views

Q: What has been the opinion of those who live along the route?
A: We have been keeping very accurate statistics on this and the vast majority are supportive of the event.  Some are neutral and a small percentage are strongly opposed.  We have considered all the views put to us by residents and members of the broader community and reconciled them with the views of our expert consultants.

Q: How does the route compare to other WRC events?
A: The route will be very challenging and spectacular from a sporting and television point of view.  Although it is more spread out, and we have taken out some sections of road for environmental reasons, the route will be worthy of a World Championship rally.