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The organisers of Repco Rally Australia have strongly rejected some of the reasons cited by specific interest groups opposed to the event.

Rally Australia Organising Committee Chairman, Garry Connelly, said the World Rally Championship round on 3-6 September had substantial community support and would bring major benefits to the Tweed and Kyogle shires in northern New South Wales.

Some critics also appeared to ignore the fact that the rally was taking a world-leading approach to environmental issues.

“We absolutely reject recent statements that the community is opposed to Rally Australia,” Mr Connelly said.

“On the contrary, 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.

“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 through the money spent in staging the event and by thousands of visitors from overseas and interstate.

“We know, based on research from other rounds in Spain, Ireland, Finland and New Zealand, that a WRC event has the potential to bring very significant economic benefits.”

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.

“And, most importantly, we have appointed a highly-respected independent environmental consultant, Dr Steven Phillips, whose advice we have pledged to follow.

“We are listening to all opinions, but it seems there are some who will be implacably opposed to the rally on any grounds, justified or not, and they are doing no favours to their fellow members of the wider community.

“This doesn’t include those people who have genuine concerns. We are listening and acting to address the genuine concerns that have been expressed in the consultative process.

“We look forward to hearing a louder voice from those who recognise the real benefits Rally Australia will bring to the region.”

The Repco Rally Australia Environmental Policy is available to download from the website, www.rallyaustralia.com.au.

The 2009 WRC, of which Repco Rally Australia is the 10th round, will visit 12 countries including Norway, Argentina, Greece, Spain and Britain.

Competitors will include the most successful driver in the sport’s history, Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, who has won 49 rounds and five world championships with Citroen.

Repco Rally Australia organisers also are hoping to attract Australia’s Chris Atkinson, who has joined the Citroen Junior World Rally Team after four years with Subaru.

Repco Rally Australia, Round 10 of the 2009 FIA World Rally Championship, is scheduled to run on 3-6 September. Closed-road competition stages will be run in the Tweed and Kyogle Shires, with a rally car service park at Kingscliff and operations headquarters at SALT Resort. Drivers and teams from many countries, including Australia, will participate.

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