Rallying around.

The rally route near my home…..

Almost every day brings more news about the speed with which the climate is warming, whether it be forest fires in Siberia, the melting icecap in Greenland, or record high temperatures in Alaska – to name three recent examples. The suspicion is that the climate is changing much faster than was ever imagined. It seems that climate chaos will soon be with us.

Yet north Ceredigion will soon be the venue for a new car rally; possibly the most frivolous waste of fossil fuels that it is possible to imagine. The Rali Bae Ceredigion, due to take place in early September, will see 120 cars covering a total race length of 44 miles in four stages. Roads in the Bontgoch, Pendam/Ponterwyd, Ystumtuen and Nant-y-moch areas will be closed for the day. Cars will slowly proceed from stage to stage on public roads, another 44 miles.

As well as the carbon emissions from the competition cars themselves, those from an estimated 1500 marshals, officials and mechanics required on the day need to be added. On top of that will be the emissions involved from their journeys to north Ceredigion from their homes, PLUS an unknown (but probably considerable) number of spectators. Rally organisers claim that the use of shuttle buses to take spectators to vantage points on the rally route will “boost the event’s environmental credentials”. As if it had any!

No-one who has given their endorsement to this rally can possibly have considered its environmental impact. If they had it would have been a non-starter. The climate crisis is just too serious. And yet rally organisers hope that this rally will become an annual event, “developing and expanding” in future years..

Backers of the rally include Visit Wales, part of the Welsh Assembly Government, which has recently declared a Climate Emergency. Ben Lake MP (Plaid Cymru spokesman on the environment, among other things) is in favour, despite his party strongly supporting the Climate Emergency Declaration. “Without the commitment to action that such a Declaration necessitates, the statement is meaningless”, said Plaid Cymru in May.

Those who seem likely to gain the most financially from the rally include Ceredigion County Council – who narrowly failed to declare a Climate Emergency themselves earlier this year – and Aberystwyth University.

The University will be making a very tidy profit from hosting the rally. Rooms in its Halls of Residence will be rented out to drivers and officials. Space for parking, vehicle movements and servicing, office activity, presentation areas, and catering facilities will be made available. Among the areas commandeered will be the Arts Centre and one has to question how appropriate the use of the Arts Centre actually is. What possible artistic or cultural purpose does a car rally serve?

The University really needs to examine its conscience on the Climate Emergency. They still have investments in the fossil fuel industry, and rally organisers have been quite open about the University’s support – without it the rally just would not happen.

When we are all being urged to leave the car at home and use public transport to save carbon emissions, this new rally is close to being an obscenity. It should not be repeated.

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About Jeremy Moore

Recently described as "Wales' leading environmental photographer"; based near Aberystwyth, and specialising in Welsh landscape and wildlife. He has published the Wild Wales / Cymru Wyllt range of postcards since 1987. His most recent book was "Wales at Waters Edge" (with Jon Gower) published in May 2012. The National Library of Wales has a large number of his prints in its Collection. His exhibition "Bird/land" was shown at Aberystwyth Arts Centre from June until August 2016. It originally received support from the Arts Council of Wales. He is also working on a new book about Wales with the author Jon Gower, due for publication in autumn 2018.
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5 Responses to Rallying around.

  1. Brian says:

    Absolutely bonkers. Lets hope UCW see the betrayal in their support of the rally.

  2. Simon E says:

    Growing up in Mid-Wales, I was a fan of rallying. We would drive to Hafren or Sweet Lamb to stand between pine trees, often early in the morning or on a cold, dark night, just to get a glimpse of these machines being piloted at breakneck speed across loose surfaces with great skill. However, as time went by I saw it for what it is – a marketing exercise by massive companies. Now I find it ugly, horribly intrusive and an environmental obscenity.

    The environmental impact is of no interest to the organisers, teams, land owners and sponsors. They are only inerested in selling more cars, renting out land to the event or promoting a brand. And that’s before you consider the sport’s impact on local communities – blocking access to the countryside (reminiscent of grouse moor management) while making the roads a nightmare for locals as wannabe boy-racers charge from one location to another to watch it again. In between they pretend that they are like rally drivers and treat the public road as a race track with no consideration for anyone else. Although many people who aren’t motorsport fans do that too. 😦

    Those urging us to leave the car at home have no plans to do the same. Councils cut spending on public transport every year, describing it as a ‘subsidy’ (in a negative way), reluctantly propping up an ailing service that should be mothballed, so is it a surprise that virtually no-one uses the 2 crappy buses a day that are provided? Meanwhile roadbuilding projects get vast sums thrown at them and it’s called ‘investment’. The university and council should end their involvement in motorsport and invest taxpayers’ money more wisely to benefit the many and not the few.

    • Jeremy Moore says:

      Simon,

      I see you have ……. er ……. strong views on rallying.

      I don’t suppose you have any specialist knowledge about it or on cars and their emissions, do you? If so, could you get in touch personally. Together with some others I am trying to prevent this rally from happening again.

      Thanks,

      jerry

      • Simon E says:

        Sorry, I have no expert knowledge on anything. I’m sure there are people who would help with that but I’m not sure emissions numbers would carry much weight. They will of course be far higher for very powerful race-prepped engines driven as fast as possible than a standard car driven normally.

        If you want to reduce the chance of the event taking place again I think you need to get communities to understand the harm done on multiple levels – noise, disruption of people’s lives, harm to livestock, crashes etc. Also explain how the activity does not benefit the communities and perhaps a FOI request to the council about the money involved and how they justify the spending on something that does not provide any real benefit.

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