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July 7, 2022

SGB residents fear Parklands’ expansion plans

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 Byron's deputy mayor Basil Cameron addresses a South Golden Beach Community Association meeting on Saturday called to discuss North Byron Parklands' expansion plans.
Byron’s deputy mayor Basil Cameron addresses a South Golden Beach Community Association meeting on Saturday called to discuss North Byron Parklands’ expansion plans.

Around 120 people packed the South Golden Beach Community Centre on Saturday (February 4) to express their concerns at North Byron Parklands’ (NBP) intention to be declared a state significant development and a permanent music festival site.

The SGB Community Association hosted the meeting, during which attendees ‘expressed anger and dismay at Parklands’ plans to double the number of festival days, increase attendance to 50,000 per day, and be able to increase both in future,’ according to vice president Denise Nessel.

‘Residents were also disturbed to learn that if the proposal is approved by the state, Byron Shire Council will have no say in the site’s operation,’ Ms Nessel said.

‘All were surprised to learn that council has not received funds from Parklands during the current trial and may get little to none under permanent approval as a state-run site,’ she added.

Ms Nessel said Parklands GM Mat Morris and other Parklands employees attended and answered a few questions before the meeting voted that they leave ‘so that residents could more freely voice their opinions.’

Byron’s deputy mayor Basil Cameron, independent Cr Cate Coorey, and Greens Cr Sarah Ndiaye attended and responded to questions, as did Tweed deputy mayor Chris Cherry.

Ms Nessel said the general feeling of the meeting was that the proposal is not in the best interests of the community and that the council needs to support residents and speak out strongly against it.

The next step in the process is for the Department of Planning to put the proposal on public exhibition, together with its recommendations. The minister, or a delegated authority, will make the determination.

GM answers questions

Echonetdaily put the following questions to Parklands GM Mat Morris. His responses are published unedited below.

Is it true North Byron Parklands is seeking to be a State Significant Development as a permanent music festival site?

Under the current planning laws, any regional development with a proposed capital value of more than $30m must be referred by Council to the Department of Planning and Environment. There is no choice in the matter.
Is there a proposal for it to be “50,000 patrons per day, and be able to increase in future”?

Yes, as per the original approval submitted in 2010, Parklands is seeking approval for 12 event days of between 25,000 and 50,000 patrons. The two existing events (Splendour and Falls) currently utilise 8 of these days, leaving the possibility of an additional event. It should be noted that under the existing trial approval Parklands has had the right to host a third event, however this has never been enacted reflecting the market realities of events in Australia. The requested remaining 8 days would be for events under 25,000. As one example of such events, Parklands is currently negotiating with a group to bring a running event with 2,000-3,000 participants to the venue.

Is this correct – “All were surprised to learn that Council has not received funds from Parklands during the current trial and may get little to none under permanent approval as a state-run site.”

Parklands has always paid Council fees in relation to compliance matters that fall under its jurisdiction such as food vendor inspections, waste water, etc. In relation to the State Significant Development Parklands will be required to pay a S94 development contribution.

You previously said that North Byron Parklands contributed to a roundabout and that as the festival site has onsite sewage, it creates less impacts.

Parklands pays approximately $20,000 per annum in rates yet has no connections to Council water and sewerage systems and receives no waste, recycling or organics services. In 2014, Parklands secured Council approval for an environmental award winning composting toilet system (246 composting toilets) and greywater treatment plant which manages over 90 per cent of all wastewater and sewage onsite. The remaining wastewater goes to Byron STP under a fee-paying license. This is probably one of the most sustainable systems for outdoor venues in Australia. Parklands has worked with Council and provided funding for the newly installed roundabout adjacent to the Yelgun interchange in addition to sealing sections of local roads for residential amenity purposes.

With council crying poor and a 7.5 per cent rate rise approved, why would North Byron Parklands pursue an avenue where Council cannot receive contributions as the delegated authority?

Our advice is that the SSD would attract S94 contributions payable directly to Byron Shire Council.

And finally – would North Byron Parklands consider a special levy on tickets to contribute to council?

A $1 per ticket levy has been in place since the first event held at North Byron Parklands with 100 per cent of these funds distributed to community and environmental groups predominantly located in the north of the Shire. In the past 3 and ½ years Parklands and the two events have distributed $194,500 to local groups. I am not sure there is another organisation, government or otherwise that has provided similar support to such groups and organisations in the north of the Shire.

Parklands is holding its own community meeting about the proposal on Sunday February 12 , from 4.00pm – 5.30pm at North Byron Parklands. Please enter via North Byron Parklands’ Southern Carpark, at 126 Tweed Valley Way, and follow signage.


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  1. In respect to some of the points Matt Morris raises in defense of his project, much of what he says sounds good until you dig a little further down.
    1. The rates paid are for a farm and therefore have the 30% farm discount. For the impact on our community that is a cheap commercial deal when you consider ALL the community impacts the festivals have and which the Shire have to cover.
    2. The toilets sound good but I want to draw attention to the following;
    a. the present consent conditions of the site required Parklands to install water treatment and sewerage facilities. This has NOT been done, yet despite NOT having fulfilled this condition they are coming back with a more grandiose plan.
    b. Parklands solution to water and sewerage is that everything is being, and to be done, on a drive-in and drive-out basis.
    c. As far as can be made out Parklands will not offer to build any onsite treatment plants in the future and will push to continue the existing ship-in, ship-out process
    c. The ‘composting’ toilets are good but take time and so any composting is cut short as the sewerage is shipped out shortly after being ‘dropped’.
    e. While Mr Morris is right about not ‘receiving’ any Shire services re water or sewerage the eventual tankers of waste still need to be acquired and dumped somewhere and use the road net work to do so. Our shire has 35,000 residents. Imagine the waste generated by 50,000 festival patrons and its impact on our sewerage system even if only 12 days.
    d. And, people will be people, many patrons will and do choose a nearby tree to relieve themselves if the toilets are busy. There is little evidence of this being policed or monitored.

  2. I was incorrect at the meeting when quoting the Farming rate discount for 2016.2017 as 30%. I checked when I got home and it was a 16.3% reduction in rates. Whereas many residents in the same period got increases of between 10% and 22% depending on where they live and the rateable value of the land.

  3. Well said Hess another major concern will be telecommunications mobiles, computers, phones no reception, life threatening. If you are a major contributor to this problem you have to pay to fix said problem. No increase in numbers ever. This is an absolute debarkle. Plus your honey money doesn’t work any more. People are waking up to what is happening to our shire, being loved to death is not what we want. Also remember we have another festival site not 10 minutes do9wn the highway when they both get going welllllll I say no more

  4. What an ambiguous answer to the 2 part question “Is there a proposal for it to be “50,000 patrons per day, and be able to increase in future”?”
    Mr Morris has replied “YES” to both parts of the question noted above.
    Firstly Mr Morris is making out that there are only 4 days left to make it up to “12 event days.” I have heard from community representatives, employed by North Byron Parklands(NBP) that this proposal to the State Govt is asking for 12 event days of 50,000 and 8 event days of 25,000 patrons and when I add that up, that makes it 20 days of events, between 25,000 and 50,000.
    On the proposal application to become a State Significant Development there is no mention of how many days per year, only the amount of increasing to 50,000 patrons. (Please go to the Dept of Planning website and read for yourself.) Also Mat Morris has just admitted in his reply by saying “Yes” to the second part of the question “be able to increase in future”? indicating that there will be an increase in numbers above the 50,000! The reps from NBP also told me that the proposed 20 event days of 50,000 may be ‘one off concerts’ with big name acts, that command well over 50000 patrons, as well as smaller festivals and gatherings, so this makes me think that we could be hosting in our community an event possibly every weekend, fortnight or month!
    Thank you Mr Morris and NBP for your consideration of the surrounding communities, not to mention the impact on the Billinudgel Nature Reserve. Citizens rights are being compromised by the impact of the 2 festivals already in place and I remember when we were told that it would be just ONE festival! Now how many?
    I have not spoken to one person in community who has said ” Wow I wish I had a Mega Festival Site in my backyard!”

  5. The fact of the matter is that we’ve the Shire cannot cope with amount of Festival goers at CURRENT levels, how on earth are we going to cope with more people and festivals? If anything, numbers need to be cut down. This site should never have been approved to have such numbers due to the lack of infrastructure and services in the area and due to the fact it is situated in a wildlife corridor.

    Emergency services are overstretched as it is to the detriment of the local community. Where are the extra police/fire/ambulance/hospital/NRMA services going to come from if we have such an increase in numbers?

    What about the fact that evacuation of the site in an emergency can’t be done in under 8 hours at current levels? How is that able to not be an issue with SafeWork Australia?

    And lets not forget the wildlife and the nearby residents of Yelgun/Wooyung having to deal with more disruption to their lives.

    Parklands has imposed a huge burden on this shire. Any financial gains by the community are easily negated by the stress and inconveniences we have to put up with trying to go about our daily lives at these times.

  6. North Byron Parklands follows the same formula that has brought this planet to its knees.
    Take a beautiful piece of nature that benefits us all and [use it] to make money for a few.
    The owners, the shareholders, the musicians, the suppliers of alcohol and food are there to make money.
    While the unfortunate neighbours who came here specifically for peace and quiet have to clean up the shit, rubbish, broken bottles and put up with the abuse and noise of the illegal campers.
    To say nothing of the festival noise that drives fauna away and disturbs the lives of anyone living nearby.
    As the shire gets hotter and drier it’s only a matter of time before some thoughtless festival patron drops a cigarette and starts a fire that will burn hundreds of hectares.
    Derek Harper


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