In response to ‘Right place for dirt bikes’, South Gippsland Sentinel-Times April 24; There are a number of issues raised in this letter that I believe require a response.
Firstly, no one disputes that off-road motorcycling is a legitimate activity, sport, and hobby enjoyed by many.
However, the questions is, in a world of competing needs for the use of land, and the need to protect the environment, where is this to take place?
The comment was made that the number of riders is increasing, yet there are few places to ride.
In fact, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) statistics show that sales are not strong, and that sales of off-road bikes declined 5.9 per cent for 12 months to December 2017 from the previous year, with a continued decline in 2018 (much to the alarm of the industry).
As well, from the same data, total sales of all motorbikes declined 9.3 per cent over the same period.
I do not profess to be any expert, however rather than showing the sport being in a period of expansion, these figures suggest it is in a state of decline.
Perhaps then, the push to establish a new track in Norton’s bush is part of a drive to revitalise a struggling sport, being promoted by those with the greatest financial stake in the local industry.
Regarding other points raised in the letter, I’d have to agree with the writer that the greatest factors against off-road motorcycling are noise and environmental impact.
As for the noise produced by a motorbike being less than a chainsaw, that may well be true for a standing test, but is not relevant under race conditions. The well maintained, professional chainsaw that I regularly use is rated by the manufacturer as generating 108dB when operating.
Compare that with the “acceptable” allowable noise generated by competition bikes at a recent, officially conducted, Enduro event of 113dB, then multiply that by 50 bikes racing at one time and you get a sense of how much noise is being generated.
Hearing damage occurs after repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85dB. It is estimated that the noise generated by 50 racing motorcycles will be something like 130dB at the source.
To put that into context, the EPA states that 100dB sounds like a jet taking off at 305 metres away.
So let’s suspend reality for a minute here and try to imagine what your reaction might be if 50 strangers suddenly appeared in your street at 9am Saturday morning and started (their extra noisy) chainsaws. I would imagine something less than the laid-back, somewhat dismissive acceptance of the noise issue of off-road motorcycle racing.
And let’s not forget the plan for the proposed racing at Norton’s bush is to come back at the same time the next day (Sunday), and race all day.
Also remember the objectors to this proposal live alongside the track. They are not just visiting, there for a day’s entertainment, and can pick up and leave when it suits, as is the case with motorcycle enthusiasts.
As for Norton’s bush being an appropriate venue for a motorcycle track, this is an important piece of remnant native vegetation, home to a great number of wildlife and plant species that are under threat from land clearing and development, and is vital to the survival of the native flora and fauna in our community.
South Gippsland (excluding Wilsons Prom) has only approximately 15 per cent of its area covered in native vegetation, compared with the state of Victoria at 34 per cent.
The South Gippsland Shire Council readily acknowledges in its planning documents the need to preserve remnant vegetation, and has very strict rules controlling land clearing.
This proposal if approved, will ultimately lead to the destruction of this critical piece of remnant bushland, in a way that will bypass normal land clearing guidelines.
There is a real need for the council to step up on this issue and make sure that their actions match the fine words of their planning documents.
Other motorcycle tracks exist, let the motorcycle enthusiasts be content with what they have.
Peter Lyon, Leongatha South.