By Luis Feliu
Tweed Shire Council has raised serious concerns over flooding, noise and traffic issues with a proposed 20-month extension to the five-year trial for the Splendour in the Grass music-festival site at Yelgun.
And council has told the planning department assessing the proposal to increase the numbers at the festival during the trial extension to 35,000 people a day that the Bluesfest site at Tyagarah is available as an alternate while it looks at the extension proposal and increase in patrons.
They said the Tyagarah site was unavailable at the time the trial for the North Byron Parklands (NBP) site at Yelgun was granted five years ago.
Tweed councillors fear that during major flooding, police and emergency services will be hard pressed to cope with evacuation of more than 30,000 people, putting the safety of patrons in jeopardy.
Councillors last Thursday voted along factional lines (convervatives Crs Warren Polglase, Pryce Allsop and James Owen against) to back council’s submission to the department, with a few amendments.
The council submission highlighted various issues with the Yelgun site, including noise, which had been the subject of ongoing complaints.
But flooding was the major issue of concern, with the submission including graphic photos of the Yelgun site and surrounding area affected by floods over the years,
Council said they were concerned over North Byron Parkland’s ’responsibility to ensure the safety of patrons, should a cultural event occur at the same time as a large flooding event’.
‘Concerns are also raised as to whether an extension on this site is in the public interest, given the perceived inability to provide safe evacuation from the site during a flood,’ the submission noted.
Deputy mayor Chris Cherry said there would be major difficulties evacuating the current site and the NSW Police department’s submission had ‘indicated it was not possible to evacuate the site in under eight hours and suggested no further events would be supported until the key issues focussed on patron safety were addressed’.
Cr Cherry said a major amendment to council staff’s submission highlighted ‘the potential availability of the approved Bluesfest site for the Splendour and Falls Festival for the interim period until the permanent approval can be assessed’.
She also took a swipe at the NBP site part-owner Saul Brandon, who at a public meeting on the site two months ago ‘indicated that the police submission was a cynical attempt by NSW Police to get more funding for police at events’.
‘This type of arrogance and blatant disregard for the serious concerns raised regarding patron safety, when considered in the aftermath of the crowd crush at the 2016 Falls Festival in Lorne, must surely ring alarm bells for approval authorities,’ Cr Cherry told Echonetdaily.