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May 12, 2021

Splendour fined for noise pollution

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Splendour in the Grass orgnisers have been fined for breaching noise controls during the 2014 event.
Splendour in the Grass orgnisers have been fined for breaching noise controls during the 2014 event.

Chris Dobney

Splendour in the Grass organisers have been fined by the state’s planning department for exceeding noise limitations on the Friday and Sunday nights of the 2014 event.

Even the department admits the $3,000 fine is effectively a token impost given ‘speakers were positioned to avoid directing sound away from the event and shipping containers were used to absorb as much noise as possible’.

But North Byron Parklands (NBP), the venue that holds the events, has hit back, with GM Mat Morris describing the current noise regulation requirements of the Planning Assessment Commission as ‘unworkable’ and saying it is seeking to have them varied.

A spokesperson for department said some of the problem was caused by prevailing winds, which ‘contributed to the breach, carrying noise further than it would have done otherwise’.

‘The department is working with the venue to reduce bass noise from next year’s event to minimise its impact in terms of sound and vibration on nearby residents,’ the spokesperson said.

According to NBP’s Mat Morris, the venue would happily accept stricter controls on its bass volumes if it could have more flexibility at higher ranges.

‘On the Saturday morning, at about 10.30am – half an hour before any music of any description was playing… we took measurements at various locations in and around the site [including] at North Ocean Shores and Wooyung,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘Just the extraneous noise in those locations alone – people on landmowers, traffic passing by, dogs, whatever – meant the background noise was already plus the 10 decibel DbA that we’re allowed.

‘That example just shows how entirely impossible it is for any activity, let alone a music festival, to comply with those conditions.

‘So we are asking the regulator to provide us with limits that are a level playing field with other outdoor venues, whether they’re in the Hunter Valley or in our region, and that we become regulated for the intrusive [bass] component, which we’re currently not,’ Mr Morris said.

Ticks for traffic, complaint handling

Splendour did do better in other areas, however, with its traffic management plan and complaints response getting ticks from the department.

The report’s authors said the complaints system worked well, with phone staff directing noise monitors to areas of concern via text messages throughout the festival.

‘While the event’s complaint handling processes met approval conditions, there were capacity issues whenever there was an unusually high number of calls to the line simultaneously,’ the spokesperson said.

It recommended the hiring of more phone answering staff for the community hotline at the next event.

The report said traffic management had improved ‘significantly’ since the 2013 event.

The department said it received 36 submissions raising concerns about the event from the community and considered all of them in putting together the report.

But it added some of the issues were outside the department’s control, including illegal camping littering and disorderly conduct.

The Compliance Report is available online from www.majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au.


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  1. A miserable fine considering the impact on locals up to 10 km away and undoubtedly upon the wildlife including 50 threatened species!

    Also, (left out of the Echo report above), the Department is considering what further action to take due to other breaches of consent conditions. To quote:

    “The Department is currently considering its enforcement options in line with the Department’s‘ Compliance Policy’ and ‘Breach Management Guidelines’ to address the matters of non -compliance identified in this report.”

  2. I am shocked about the low fine imposed. I’m sure that Splendor are laughing all the way to the back to withdraw such a tickle on the wrist for blatant disregard of the noise restrictions they should be compelled to obey.

  3. I live in Main Arm and I as well as friends in Palmwoods could hear it on those nights.
    The Blues Festival must have to comply with the same rules and we are never inconvenienced by noise coming from their site. Splendour is in the wrong place. They should never have been allowed to have a music festival at that end of the Shire. Frankly the fine is paltry and should have been ten times that amount.
    The organisers show contempt for this community by objecting to this fine

  4. Mat Morris and Splendour have absolutely no shame. They make life hell for residents, exceed the noise limits, break the law and then complain about unfair treatment while continuing to act in total disregard for the people who live around the event. Money corrupts. But their sense of power and entitlement is utterly putrid.

  5. Surprise-not! This was forecast for years by those who live in the area.
    The organisers couldn’t care less about neighbours. Paltry fine was nticipated by them and as for -negotiating on ranges- you have to be kidding. Stay within the rules idiots, and stop trying to change them to suit you.
    But I forget, you’re classified as developers, so above the law on NSW

  6. I know if I disturbed neighbours in any way with loud music, and especialy 10 km away, I would be in big trouble with the authorities.
    Isnt Splendour and the site still meant to be on a on a five year trial before getting their full licence?
    This fine is nothing compared to the profits taken, a slap on the pinky.
    I would be closed down for ever if I did this.
    Why is north Byron Parklands still operating?
    Is it the Tax revenue that the N.S.W. Govt- is creaming from the events that has seen an easy ride for this event site in the most important nature/wildlife corridor on the far north coast?
    I love music and play myself, but not everyone loves my music so I respect that fact and keep it low and at appropriate times so as not to disturb.
    I have always beleived that music festivals are a good thing for this shire but in the right places that have the least impact with sound that can be contained. North parklands will always be a problem for residents.


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