Bluesfest was given approval for additional events and permanent infrastructure at last week’s Byron Shire Council meeting.
But it was met with resistance from neighbours – residents rallied to oppose the plans at morning access while Bluesfest director Peter Noble brought along employees to support his case for expansion.
So what has been approved?
Called a ‘Recreation Facility (major)’, the approval means that a range of event types and sizes are now approved, but must meet conditions.
Small events are described as up to 2,000 people and 100 days per year have been approved. Medium events are up to 15,000 people, and a maximum of ten event days per annum were approved.
Large events are defined as up to 25,000 people, with a maximum ten event days per year approved.
The staff report said, ‘Bluesfest is an example of a ‘large event’, while the Boomerang Festival is an example of a medium event. Potentially a caravan show, wedding, a 15-theatre production would be a small event.’
Staff supported the DA, with major projects planner Chris Larkin saying, ‘On balance, the proposal is assessed as being capable of operation without significant adverse impacts.’
The proposal also included a Koala Plan of Management, which has the approval of the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE).
Within the report, the police and NSW government agencies all had their say.
Notably, the Road and Maritime Services (RMS) said that with completion of the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale upgrade, they are ‘investigating options to bring the motorway up to a motorway standard. That includes limiting side-road access… RMS has undertaken public consultation which includes the future closure of Grays Lane… Grays Lane will be closed… and will not be available for use for traffic management of events at Tyagarah.’
That concern was brought up by resident Gwen Gould in morning public access, who said she would be ‘landlocked’ during Bluesfest if Grays Lane was blocked from the highway.
‘I sleep with pillows against my window when the festival is on,’ she added.
John Bailey from the Tyagarah Sustainable Association also addressed the chamber and said his group are yet to get a response from council over their complaints.
He said, ‘Our legal advice says we have a case against council and will take it to land and environment court. Historically, the Bluesfest has failed [with DA compliance]. We are being asked [to agree to] another 15 days. The cost is on our community; we leave the area at Easter.
Resident Michael Goldberg said he was also affected.
‘My windows shake [during the event] and I don’t get a free ticket. The noise goes over 50 decibels and there is no police or council checking on anything.
‘So a lot of things aren’t being complied with on this DA. Why isn’t the existing DA being upheld?’
At another point, resident Tony Baggio shut down morning access after he refused to stop complaining that he didn’t have an opportunity to speak.
He later told Echonetdaily he has lived on Foxs Lane since 1997.
‘The sound impact report is a fake,’ he said, referring to the GeoLink Events Site Statement of Environmental Effects. He pointed to within the report where there is no reading for night-time.
‘It states that lot 10 – my home – has the worst noise, which has been recorded with well over 50 decibels – yet they blame it on insects!’
A press release by Bluesfest director said, ‘The fear from our neighbours that we may have wanted to do another major festival on the site was addressed by council in a manner that met our approval, and seemingly those in attendance at council chambers. It is not likely that there will be any new events for some time to come. First we will build the infrastructure so that there is a functions centre on site as well as, in time, permanent shower and toilet facilities and food and beverage areas.’