Byron Shire Council has announced it will place a new, draft major event clause for its LEP on exhibition tomorrow (22 March), despite the fact that it could be over-ruled by the state government within the 36-day exhibition period.
The policy largely mirrors the one that attracted 3,500 submissions last year, and allows for only two major events (with crowds of more than 6,000 people) per year in the shire. The main change being that single-day events, which were previously excluded, are now also included.
Council’s executive manager of environment and planning, Ray Darney, told Echonetdaily ‘council’s position varies from the staff recommendation on that point’.
He added ‘the intent and thrust is that the community and council believe that only two major events are sustainable both economically and socially in Byron Shire and we should be encouraging smaller events in between that are well supported by the community and cause less impact.
But Splendour and the management of its proposed new home, North Byron Parklands, have already taken their application for up to three events per year to the state government and the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) is due to release its decision shortly.
NBP manager Mat Morris dismissed the council’s move in a few brief sentences.
‘This does not relate to North Byron Parklands. We have our own application, which is being processed at present. We hope it will be finalised soon,’ he told Echonetdaily.
Mr Darney admitted it would be difficult to get up the amendment if the PAC ruling came down on the side of NBP’s proposal.
‘A decision favourable to the full extent of the Splendour site would make our position of trying to put it in place in the LEP legally quite difficult. We’re hopeful that the Splendour approval will limit that site to only one major event [per year],’ he said yesterday.
If NBP’s reaction was low key, Bluesfest’s Peter Noble was not. He described the policy as ‘draconian and probably illegal’.
‘There is nowhere else in Australia, and probably the world, where a policy of this type exists,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘Why we would have an events policy which would only affect music events? Councils all over Australia and most normal people actually like music. They don’t try to stop it.’
‘Byron Shire Council knows the policy is illegal. That’s why they’re trying to ally it to an outdated LEP.’ He questioned why the council, which is close to the end of its term, would be putting up the draft clause again now.
Mr Noble said the policy would not pass the Trade Practices Act and would probably be rejected by the state government in any case.
He said he had spoken privately to a number of councillors who don’t support there being a restriction on one-day music events, and that one had even encouraged him to put in an application for a trial event.
Asked if he would go over the head of council if necessary to gain permission for a single-day event at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm he told Echonetdaily, ‘what choice am I left with if I have nothing left to deal with but the most draconian events policy ever enacted in this country?’
He said he had offered many times to speak privately to the mayor about the issue.
‘I have asked Jan Barham to discuss this with me for more than six months. I’ve haven’t heard back. My phone number hasn’t changed.
‘Why are the greens anti-arts? It makes no sense. If their revolution doesn’t include dancing in the future I’m going to another party.’