Rally in parks

Belair National Park is a State icon that attracts more than 250,000 visitors a year.
It has a dedicated ‘friends’ group whose members were rather surprised to find out, second-hand, that a  motor sport competition was planning to run a stage on a circuit of sealed roads through the park.
The friends obviously don’t own the park, although arguably all South Australians do, but it would have been diplomatic for the State Government to have done some consultation with key stakeholder groups before the “proposed” route was posted on the Targa Adelaide website.
The same could be said for another stage scheduled in the Para Wirra Recreation Park on the northern side of the Hills near Kersbrook.
Communication, consultation and co-operation go a long way when one group wants exclusive access to a public asset.
That’s not to say that the national rally championship competition shouldn’t be held in the parks.
Those opposed might argue that the tarmac event poses a threat to native vegetation and wildlife but if the cars stay on the road and travel at “demonstration” speeds and spectator access is managed to protect vulnerable biodiversity, there’s no reason a rally would have more of a negative impact than the Earth Station festival in Belair earlier this year or any of the family barbecues organised by the general population.
Public parks should be used as much as possible.
In the case of the Targa, it could almost be seen as a plus that public property is closed off rather than access to private properties.
What’s really at issue here is the last minute nature of the organisation of this rally which leaves no time for fruitful community consultation.
Liberal Member for Davenport Iain Evans blames the Government for not consulting but it’s hard to see where the environment department would have a chance to do so if rally organisers only began discussions in earnest a month ago.
The Targa Adelaide is being run in two months’ time.
Except for the night stage in Adelaide on the first day, all of the nearly 30 stages are being run in the Hills and most of those only secured council approvals for road closures a few weeks ago.
One new stage at Eagle on the Hill was only recently proposed and put to the councils affected in the past three weeks.
Targa organiser Octagon runs these events all over Australia and is obviously used to flexible schedules and running close to deadlines but it would make life easier for the Hills and improve community relations if there was more time for open discussion about proposed stages.