PLANS to allow rally cars to race through Scotland’s roads are set to see the return of a major motorsport event four years after it was mired in tragedy.

Ministers want to introduce a new permit system and hand councils extra powers to close off public roads – potentially kick-starting a new generation of adrenaline-fuelled events across the country.

It comes more than four years after a car lost control and ploughed into spectators at the Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish Borders in 2014, killing two men and a woman.

Motoring figures and politicians welcomed the latest move, but insisted lessons must be learned.

Scottish Tory MP John Lamont, who represents Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, said: “Clearly there are huge sensitivities around the tragedy, and that will continue to be the case.

“But it’s right that we look at getting this popular event back, which is vital for the local economy.

“Of course lessons have to be learned, and any new event needs to have participant and spectator safety right at its heart.

“But this is a step in the right direction, and local people and rally fans alike will be glad to see it.”

The new plans, which are being consulted on by the Scottish Government, would see a two-stage application process introduced to allow motorsports to take place on closed public roads across Scotland.

This would give governing body Motorsport UK the power to issue permits, before the relevant local authority is approached for permission to go ahead.

Councils would then be able to decide whether to close public roads and suspend speed limits after weighing up the impact on communities and any potential economic boost.

The Jim Clark Rally was held annually from 1997 until 2014, when it entered into difficulties following the deaths of Iain Provan, 64, Elizabeth Allan, 63, and Len Stern, 71.

Similarly the Isle of Mull Rally – a feature of the sporting calendar since 1990 – has not been held in recent years.

Both races took place under private legislation, but organisers have since been unable to arrange suitable insurance policies to cover the events.

Ministers hope the new proposals – which follow in the footsteps of England and Wales – will open up a way a forward.

Research previously found the Jim Clark Rally was worth £1.2 million to the Scottish Borders.

David Richards, chairman of Motorsport UK, hailed the consultation as “fantastic news”.

He said: “Motorsport UK is committed to promoting the sport in all its forms and new closed-road regulations would create a wealth of opportunities to do just that.

“We urge the motorsport community to respond positively to the consultation and help us realise the possibility of a new generation of closed-road events in Scotland.”

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said ministers recognised the need to “balance economic benefits with safety considerations – both for spectators and participants”.

He said: “Following the tragic rallying accidents of recent years, Scotland has lost two major events from its sporting calendar and has been unable to host any motorsports on closed public roads.

“This is detrimental to local economies and something which we are seeking to address. We must be mindful that motorsports can be dangerous and that risk needs to be correctly assessed and managed.

“It is important that the people who understand the sport are put at the heart of this assessment and also to ensure that local knowledge is fully taken into account.”