Over four years ago the Warrnambool and District Drag Racing Association (WADDRA) was advised that they would be unable to continue to use the Warrnambool airport for legal off street drag racing. Warrnambool City Council and Moyne shire made a commitment to help WADDRA, who had been without a home for some 20 years, to find a permanent site for their purpose built motorsport facility.
Three years ago Moyne shire advised WADDRA it had found a suitable site and pending a rezoning petition it would meet all the conditions required. The old Koroit racecourse was to be our new home. Moyne Shire assisted WADDRA with grant applications, ASF registration and in conjunction with WCC, a consultant to assist with the compilation of a planning permit application. On the advice of this consultant WCC, Moyne Shire and WADDRA all paid for numerous studies into the site. Environmental impact assessment, waste water treatment assessment, noise assessment, traffic management assessment, land capacity assessment, flora and fauna assessment and a landscape study.
You do the math on a consultant, a strategic planning officer and numerous studies (over three years). This culminated in an over a 400-page planning permit being submitted to Moyne Shire planning department. It was accepted and put into the public domain. The application received 10 objections. Some multiple ones from the same families. These objections were responded to by WADDRA. More studies were done and paid for. This resulted in 52 conditions being placed on the permit for it to go ahead. WADDRA acquiesced to all but three of these and they were to do with minor issues like line marking of the car parking area which was grassed. Moyne Shire planning department recommended approval of the planning permit and it was presented at the last shire meeting. We went to the shire meeting with the expectation of a fair hearing.
We had jumped all the hurdles, paid all the money and put in all the ground work. Moyne Shire’s own planning department had recommended approval. WADDRA had the funds to commence building immediately. Unfortunately we underestimated the environment that perhaps surrounds an imminent council election and how people’s emotions can override their sensibilities. We perhaps should have lobbied councillors harder, cried some more tears and begged for the opportunity to grow the Koroit economy. We won’t cry foul or chuck the towel in.
WADDRA has the support of the Koroit business community, the drag racing fraternity and fair minded people everywhere who still believe if you get in and have a go your work is eventually rewarded. Thank you to all our supporters, you have been fantastic. We will spend some more of our hard earned money, put in some more hard work and we will fight on. Watch this space.
Tony Frost, WADDRA president