Residents of Raglan object to the World Rally Championship being held on local roads in September

The World Rally Championship has applied to Waikato District Council to temporarily close a number of roads in the Raglan region for a partial day on 1 September for reconnaissance and a full day on 4 September for the live race. 

Prior to this application, in February of this year due to growing concern at the possibility of another rally, 42 residents and ratepayers of Whaanga, Ruapuke and Te Tuhi Roads signed and a letter addressed to the Mayor and Councillors of Waikato District Council objecting to the road closure with clear reasons for their objection stated. There was no response to this letter.

Now that the official notification has been published, Raglan residents who object to the closure are seeking support from other Raglan locals to also lodge an official objection. It is feared that without a large number of residents objecting to the closure, the rally will be given the green light as it is every year without due consideration of its detrimental effects. Residents state the the key reasons for objection are:

The use of this road by the rally of New Zealand and other motor vehicle races causes disruption to business, significant damage to the road that takes months to repair, danger to stock, costs to residents in tyres, wheel alignments and other car repairs, damage to the environment, negative impact of helicopters and drones and significant safety concerns.

The fact that Whaanga Road remains unsealed, despite less busy roads in the District being sealed since the 1980s, is evidence of the needs of the rallies being prioritised over those of residents, tourists and the many other users. This is evidenced by the following quote from Waikato Alliance when asked for the reason for the continued poor condition of Whaanga Road:

“Moving forwards, I was hoping to continue with the unsealed stabilising works on Whaanga Rd in autumn of this year to provide a long term solution to the corrugations that appear regularly in places on this road but am understandably reluctant knowing that the World Rally may be using Whaanga Road again as part of its NZ / Raglan stage of the event. The damage done to the road surface by such an event would eliminate any benefits provided by the stabilising works so it would not be financially prudent to invest a significant amount of ratepayers money for what could ultimately result in no benefit. I am hoping to find out what Councils decision is regarding the Rally in the coming weeks as it is a Council decision and not one made by the Alliance.”

Further to this, residents believe that a motor rally should not be permitted on Whaanga Road because:

Rally contradicts rural road safety messages, including the Council’s own safety campaign.

There are serious health and safety threats from vehicles, spectators and helicopters causing distress and possible injury to stock.Rally encourages trespassers and freedom campers and creates personal safety concerns for residents Rally damages rare and delicate plants and aquatic life via sediment thrown off road.

Rally exceeds permitted noise limits for the area

Rally places a heavy toll of stress on rural residents at a busy farming time of year Rally disrupts the running of farms and other businesses Rally risks damage to fences and farm structures adjacent to the road.

Rally causes serious damage to the road with an estimated repair cost of $100,000 Large volumes of road surface removed by rally cars in one day should require a resource consent by WDC rules (estimated at 100 to 400 cubic metres of material over 10 km).

Rally prevents many locals and visitors from going about daily businessDirect and indirect to costs to residents and visitors to area.

No evidence of benefit to local Raglan businesses or the community as a whole.

The road is not currently maintained to a reasonable standard and has not been restored to a reasonable standard after previous rallies.

The fact is that the road is already dangerous enough from occasional vehicles driving too fast. And, logically, this use of the road condones this type of driving and sets a benchmark for the many “wanna-be” race drivers who already race along the road.

Residents report increased bad driving in the weeks before the event with incidents of people “practising”, as well as cars racing on the road after the event. While this is not sanctioned by the governing body, they and the Council are powerless to stop it happening.

The residents of Whaanga, Ruapuke and Te Tuhi Roads who oppose the closure of the roads for the World Rally Championship would sincerely appreciate support by other local residents.

If you would like to object to the proposal please lodge your feedback by email to tmc@waikatoalliance.co.nz by 5pm, 29 May 2020, or in writing to: World Rally Championship Proposed Road Closures, Waikato District Council, Private Bag 544, Ngaruawahia, 3742.  You can also give your feedback to our local Councillor Lisa Thomson; mobile 021 179 8256 or email: Lisa.Thomson@waidc.govt.nz.