[author]Story and photo Luis Feliu[/author]
A total of 131 speakers are scheduled to speak at the two days of public hearings this week into the controversial plan for a permanent music-festival site at Yelgun on the Tweed-Byron shire border this Wednesday and Thursday.
Owing to the large number of speakers for and against the development, the NSW Public Assessment Commission has limited each speaker to five minutes.
The hearings conducted by the commission, which makes the final decision on the North Byron Parklands event site proposal where Splendour in the Grass and other music festivals are set to be staged, will be held on Wednesday 1 February at the Byron Bay Community Centre and Thursday 2 February at the Ocean Shores Public School hall in Shara Boulevard, Ocean Shores, both starting at 9am.? The NSW planning department recently recommended approval for the development, with up to four major festivals per year with the potential to see up to 50,000 patrons per festival. It also recommended a maximum of 25,000 on-site campers.
The list of speakers for and against at the hearings reads like a who’s who of Byron identities and include the two major festival promoters, Bluesfest’s Peter Noble and Splendour’s Brandon Saul.
The list also includes representatives from Byron Shire Council, resident, community, business and environmental organisations, tourism bodies and former local politicians.
Opponents say the site, surrounded on three sides by nature reserve and bushland, is a potential death trap of fire or flash flooding and the development would be a social and environmental disaster, while supporters say it would create jobs, boost tourism and strengthen the area as a vegetated wildlife corridor.
The PAC panel hearing the case comprises Emeritus Professor Kevin Sproats as chair and Ms Gabrielle Kibble, both urban planning experts who hold, or have held, various positions with government departments and agencies.
The concept plan and first two stages of the development, including the planning department’s assessment report and recommendation, are available at website www.pac.nsw.gov.au.
Image: Low-lying areas of the Yelgun development site where the Splendour in the Grass festivals are planned to be held were flooded this week, especially the proposed car park at the main entrance to the site.