Rallies to return to closed public roads

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Rally car in MullImage source, John Lindsay/Transport Scotland
Image caption,
The Mull Rally will mark its 50th anniversary when it is staged in October

Two of Scotland's leading motorsports events are to return to public roads after new regulations came into force.

No closed-road rallies have taken place in Scotland since the death of three people at the Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish Borders in 2014.

But preparations are now under way to stage the Mull Rally on October 11-13.

The Jim Clark Rally, which was normally held at the end of May, will now be staged at the end of the season, on the 8 and 9 November.

Organisers said they wanted to avoid clashing with other events around the UK during a "very busy" motorsports season.

They added that the route and timetable were evolving and more details would be available in due course.

In Mull, drivers will mark the rally's 50th anniversary.

Andy Jardine, the clerk of the course, said: "The island has missed the event over the last two years, but the sport has missed it as well. Mull is such a special rally for lots of people.

"Our thanks to everyone at Transport Scotland for pursing this legislation and for enabling the event to come back in time for the 50th anniversary."

Closed-road rallies were previously held under private legislation, however, organisers were unable to continue arranging suitable insurance policies to cover them.

Following a consultation, the Scottish government introduced new regulations to better support motorsport and enhance public safety.

The new regulations create a two-stage process for event organisers to apply for a permit from the relevant roads authority in order to hold an event on closed public roads.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
The Jim Clark Rally has not been held on its traditional route in the Borders since the fatal crash in 2014

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: "We have a proud tradition of motorsport in Scotland and this government recognises the need to balance the potential for economic benefits and public enjoyment from motorsports with a high degree of safety.

"We have listened to motorsports governing bodies and taken steps which will simplify the consideration of events by creating a robust and proportionate framework for the authorisation of motorsport on public roads in Scotland.

"We know that motorsports can be dangerous and that the risk needs to be correctly assessed and managed, however, this step will help usher the return of major sporting events to our communities, boosting local economies and help to continue Scotland's rich legacy in motorsport."

Iain Provan, 64, Elizabeth Allan, 63, and Len Stern, 71, died at the Jim Clark Rally in 2014 and it has not been held on its traditional route since.