‘Excessive’ is how Byron Shire Council’s executive manager of planning, Ray Darney, described a recommendation by NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure that events of up to 50,000 people could potentially be held at the new Splendour site at North Byron Parklands.
Mr Darney told Echonetdaily, ‘It is well in excess of what Council approved at the Tyagarah site for the Bluesfest, and well in excess of what Splendour originally put in the application to Council which was for 22,500 patrons per day’.
He said Council originally approved a one-year trial event at the Splendour site to gauge the impact of 15,000 day patrons and 5,240 campers.
‘This was done to gauge the traffic, noise and ecological impacts. An appeal from the Environmental Defenders Office to the Land and Environment Court overturned that Council trial approval. Council will make a submission regarding the impact of such large numbers, and hopefully will be able to make a case to reduce the number to something similar to the original approval granted by Council.
‘If the numbers that are now proposed are achieved, the impact on the area will be much greater than the original trial approval granted by Council.’
The Coalition For Festival Sanity’s Mac Nicolson told Echonetdaily the proposed approval of four large festivals a year ‘is an outright assault on our community and its social cohesion’.
‘I love festivals, but I love those such as Mullum and Bellingen that hold them inclusive of the local community, within the town area and immediate surrounds, with community needs taken into the utmost consideration. What the Department of Planning have demonstrated by their recommendation is that they have a clear bias in favour of the myth of jobs over the integrity of eco-systems and community.’
Mr Nicolson was also scathing over the environmental proposals to offset the development.
‘The trees they are going to plant along the wildlife corridor are just greenwash, nothing more. I personally have planted over 20,000 trees in this area while restoring riparian areas on farms, all out of my own pocket. Watching these people gain large government grants to plant trees and then seeing them dying and neglected makes you very cynical about their true motives.’
Splendour’s Jessica Ducrou said in a statement, ‘It’s great news regarding the recommendation from the Department of Planning. Once there is a determination on the proposal we will be able to work out where Splendour will be held in 2012.’