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End the hypocrisy
I am dismayed with the lack of balance in the public discussion over the Yelgun events site. There is ample evidence that a deliberate and unfettered campaign of misinformation and lies is well underway. Basing any argument on myths and fallacy is both dangerous and unwise: our society will crumble, doofs every night, decimation of wildlife, crime waves, traffic chaos, sewerage overload, waste management crisis – all demonstrable nonsense.
I read the (Planning NSW) Director General’s Environmental Assessment report and the site concept plan and discovered an astonishing complexity and attention to detail in every facet of the proposal. More importantly, the project develops in phases based on definite criteria defined as Key Performance Indicators which must be met in order for the project to reach its maximum capacity – a capacity the alarmists would have us wrongly believe begins with multiple 50,000-person events per year. Importantly, these KPIs include ongoing environmental monitoring and event impact assessment.
There is no doubt of the economic benefit festivals bring to the region. An estimated $21m per annum just in the present format alone. This sum is not pocketed solely by a greedy promoter; some 200 jobs will be created in a region with high unemployment, $100,000 per annum gifted to community groups, a conference and cultural centre to name but a few ongoing economic and cultural benefits.
I thought it prudent to poll the Woodford community to discover any horror stories surrounding the relocation of the Splendour in the Grass Festival to that region. I found none. After a long discussion with the councillor for Woodford, and other members of this small community, it became obvious why his council and the majority of the wider community wanted Splendour to stay – the benefits far outweighed the costs.
We should not forget that after considering objections our local council gave approval for a trial DA for Splendour, defeated as it was by a minor legal technicality largely responsible for kicking the approval process up to the state level. Let’s end the hypocrisy and bring Splendour home!
For North Byron Shire Parklands to get recommendation from NSW Dept of Planning for many festivals, up to 50,000 people, at Yelgun in perpetuity beggars belief. This would be a social and environmental disaster for our Shire.
Written concerns from nine major public authorities cited in the DoP report are ignored, including state police, environment and heritage, water, roads, flood and fire authorities. Statistics of submissions in favour are skewed due to NBSP canvassing its database of non-local fans whose only interest is to go to a festival.
This horrifying application has been pushed through the discredited State Part 3A process, is in breach of Council’s LEP and in breach of a Land and Environment Court decision. A temporary noisy town will spring up every month or so, up to twice the population of our Shire of 30,000, which revolves around mega alcohol and drug consumption, the party capital of Australia. Mega bucks for the developers while trashing our social and environmental fabric. There are viable alternatives for Splendour, such as the successful move to Woodford, or the new Ewingsdale site, or the Tyagarah Bluesfest site. On Wednesday and Thursday this week the Dept of Planning is hearing submissions in Byron and Ocean Shores. Consider seven generations ahead. Grow food on that richly fertile land at Yelgun! May wisdom prevail.
Sifting truth from spin
The new State Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) led by Gabrielle Kibble will be visiting this week to canvass community views on the Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s (DPI) modified development proposal for the Yelgun festival site. Public hearings are at Byron Community Centre on Wednesday February 1 and Ocean Shores Public School on Thursday 2 commencing at 9am.
Feisty marathon sessions are expected with 131 registered speakers vying to influence the Commission before they make the final determination on this state significant application. Each speaker is allotted five minutes and the PAC organisers are hoping to cram in a mind-numbing ten speakers per hour, with tea and meal breaks every two hours, optimistically hoping to wrap up around 6.30pm in Byron and 8.30pm at Ocean Shores.
This epic not-to-be-missed public talkfest is an ideological battle between ethics and economics, with the debate neatly divided between those defending biodiversity and the social amenity of existing residents and wildlife populations vs the supporters and beneficiaries of a mega-event site at Yelgun.
The DPI report is the contentious focus of public debate. The report makes recommendations on eight key issues including the scale and frequency of events, noise and acoustic impacts, ecological impacts, flooding and bushfire evacuation, traffic, access and parking issues, and proposed major infrastructure including an onsite sewerage treatment plant, significant roadworks including the Jones Road underpass, an administration building, cultural and conference centre and waste recycling centre.
The DPI recommendations and range of proposed ‘conditions’ offer highly debatable ‘solutions’ to very real problems and will inevitably be torn to shreds by opponents and lauded loudly by supporters.
PAC must sift the evident truth from the spin and outright bullshit and decide whether effective solutions are achievable or negotiable. It’s rather auspicious the commission has the opportunity to witness firsthand the impact of heavy rain, flooding and stormwater runoff on the Shire’s low-lying floodplains.
What impact 13 solid hours of repetitive arguments over two days will have on the Commission is also debatable, but this is the last chance for the local community to muster their persuasive powers.
Let’s try for Pythonesque so we can savour the irony, the wit, the passion and commitment and remain naively confident in this fundamental democratic process.