None . . Page.. 127 ..
... the elevated nature of both sites [the second site being the site of what became the Sutton Park ‘driver training’ track, which was being planned at the time] will not help with noise abatement. The noise levels need to be clarified by noise studies once the types and levels of usage are determined.
The report also went on to say that it was inevitable that conflicts would arise if motor sports went ahead at this site and recommended a closer examination of the problem before a commitment was made for the siting and design of this complex. This was never done. As prophesied, conflicts have indeed arisen. The noise abatement measures have not been taken, the motor sports continue in the wrong environment, and residents despair about the constant noise pollution.
Over the past 20 years, noise from this area has consistently been well above the limit stipulated by the ACT law. The noise limit stipulated in law is frequently exceeded and set aside through the granting of exemptions by the ACT Government to permit racing activities, which have negatively impacted on many residents of the ACT and surrounding areas. About 70 exemptions have been granted each year for the past three years, resulting in two-thirds of all weekends being covered by exemptions. So, what we have had over the last three years - and I know that Mr Wood has recognised it as unsatisfactory - is governing on this issue by exemption. In other words, the legislation is held more in disrespect through exemptions than respect on this issue.
The previous Government acknowledged that the activity should never have been located within 1.4 kilometres of the pre-existing residential area and that closing down the activity in the area was the only solution. Both the previous and present governments apparently believe that the Territory needs to have some racing area somewhere, but as yet have not sorted out a suitable site. I believe that the only long-term solution to this problem is to find a suitable site. No doubt we would all agree that the sport ought to continue; I have no objection to people being involved in the sport of motor racing. Indeed, I was involved in some forms of motor sport myself in my younger days, although I must admit that it is some decades since I have done so. The sport should continue somewhere, but not at the expense of the sanity of those trying to enjoy a weekend at home in some peace and quiet, which they are entitled to and which we in this Assembly recognised that people were entitled to when we passed the appropriate Act, the Noise Control Act, to which I will refer in a minute.
Over the years, efforts have been made to locate a suitable alternative site. A six-site short list was narrowed down to four possibilities, then to two, then to one; but apparently the preferred site turned out to be unacceptable. This experience, as well as consistent comments from the previous Government and current Government when in opposition, cast real doubts on the activity ever being shifted from its current, most inappropriate site. Having heard Mr Connolly introduce his legislation this morning on the Bill of Rights and talk about an environmental Bill of Rights, it would seem to me that if we did have such legislation in place, whereby somebody could argue in court that they have a right to an environment unpolluted by noise pollution, then they would