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Rescued animals will suffer if Rockleigh rally stage goes ahead, residents say
Organisers will consider modifying a stage of this year’s Adelaide Hills Rally in response to residents’ concerns.
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Rescued animals will suffer if a motor sport event passes through Rockleigh later this year, residents say.
A stage of the Adelaide Hills Rally is due to take place on Rockleigh’s back roads on October 22, having been approved by the Murray Bridge council back in May.
But locals fear the sound of the rally cars will spook the vulnerable animals at three local sanctuaries, driving them to harm themselves in their need to escape.
Rally organisers and council representatives faced a hostile audience of about 15 people at a meeting last Wednesday night.
The last time the rally had been held in the area, they were told, rescued kangaroos and goats had gone smashing into the fences surrounding their enclosures.
“You said you didn’t impact wildlife,” Wildlife SA co-founder Brian Yeend said.
“You have no idea.”
Sanctuary owners had faced huge vet bills last time, for sedatives beforehand and treatment of injuries afterwards, resident Penny Heighes said – would they be compensated?
Race steward Matthew Selley argued that there was “no empirical evidence” that the sound of the rally cars, in and of itself, would cause significant stress to animals in the area.
Rally regulations required competitors’ engines to be no louder than 96 decibels, which was “standard road volume” and quieter than the sound of a chainsaw or lawnmower, event manager Andrew Admiraal said.
But organisers ultimately agreed to take another look at the race’s route, to see whether they could give Furever Farm, Wildlife SA and the Native Animal Network of SA a wider berth.
Residents also raised concerns about hoon driving, road repairs, fire safety and emergency access.
“If one of my animals needs a vet, I’m not waiting for you guys – I’m opening my gate and driving out,” Furever Farm’s Darren Appleby said.
But the rally organisers assured them that all such issues would be managed appropriately.
Resident Rosie Spottiswoode lamented the fact that the rally announcement had “put neighbour against neighbour”.
But another resident, Penny Heighes, guessed that most Rockleigh people were in favour of the event.
Up to 15,000 people are expected to turn out to watch the Adelaide Hills Rally, either at the Bend Motorsport Park or along the various stages which will pass through the hills on the Saturday.
The event would bring $2.1 million of economic activity into the region, Mr Admiraal said.
The event will serve as round six of the Australian Rally Championship, and a qualifying round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
More information: ume.cool/ahr.