Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy is set to proceed with a Bill that would change the law around road racing in Northern Ireland.
Results from a public consultation on the subject have overwhelmingly supported changing the existing legislation to provide race organisers with some flexibility to change the date of their race day or practice sessions where they might otherwise have to be cancelled due to bad weather.
Danny Kennedy said: “Events like the North West 200, Ulster Grand Prix Week and Circuit of Ireland have an enormous following both locally and internationally and they attract tens of thousands of visitors to Northern Ireland every year.
“These events and many other similar motor sport meetings are weather dependant. Following the cancellation of the North West 200 in May this year, the second time in three years it has been cancelled due to bad weather, I made a firm undertaking to all road race organisers that I would examine the situation and work to provide a solution in time for the 2014 season.”
The new arrangements could be in place for the 2014 road racing season as the Minister intends to seek Executive approval to progress the Bill quickly through the Assembly.
The Minister continued: “While the vast majority of people who responded to the consultation were in favour of the changes, I fully understand the views put forward by some objecting to any road racing on a Sunday.
“The existing Road Races (NI) Order 1986 does not preclude Sunday racing, so the Bill does not seek to break any existing prohibition. It is for race promoters to decide whether they wish to race on a Sunday and to make the necessary application to the Department.
“However, I would reassure everyone that the granting of permission to reschedule a race would only take place in exceptional circumstances, such as we experienced this year when heavy snow led to the cancellation of the Circuit of Ireland Easter Stages Rally and torrential rain led to the cancellation of the North West 200 and the Dundrod 150 motor cycle races.”
The next stage in the process requires the Executive’s approval to introduce this single purpose Bill to the Assembly. Due process will allow the Assembly to debate the issue and decide if the Bill is to proceed.