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Byron Shire
January 18, 2022

Benefits of mega festivals don’t add up

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Louise Doran, Ocean Shores.

Well the Planning and Assessment Commission (PAC) has granted a 20-month extension to the trial of the North Byron Parklands (Splendour in the Grass) mega development. What a surprise!

At the PAC’s recent public hearing at Ocean Shores the only submissions presented in support of this development were from ‘festival’ owners/organisers/managers and employees. Without exception, other pro-festival speakers were representatives of sporting and community groups who have benefited financially from donations.

The absence of local residents speaking in support of this mega development clearly shows the lack of support from the local community for these high impact ‘festivals’.

Eighteen local people, including an ecologist, did speak about the negative impacts of these mega events on the wildlife, community and the local music industry. People in the room heard of the massive emissions generated by thousands of people flying and driving huge distances to attend these mega events, and from the amount of equipment that has to be trucked in and out of the site. Obviously the vested interests and profits of mega developers and their employees carry much more weight than the concerns of residents about the impact on wildlife and community amenity.

The impacts of these mega events make a mockery of any attempt to ensure Byron Shire has zero emissions.

Claims that Parklands donate large sums to local organisations need to be put into perspective. Local businesses have always been very generous in their support for local groups and charities, sporting and otherwise. One local hotel owner has been organising monthly fundraising events, which raise thousands of dollars every month to benefit many local groups. They are able to do this without loud noise disturbing residents and wildlife for miles around, without creating traffic chaos, or tonnes of rubbish and carbon emissions. Also, there’s no need for 150 extra police to be brought in, at a massive cost to taxpayers’, to ensure the safety of patrons!

Just as holiday letting is impacting on the community and house prices, these mega ‘festivals’ also have a major impact on affordable housing as thousands of people descend on the shire and home owners cash in on the lucrative AirBnB market. Why would they permanently let their homes for reasonable rents to local workers when they can make so much more short term letting, and demand keeps increasing?

When the downside of these mega events are placed under scrutiny, the benefits claimed are shown to have little substance and seem to be nothing more than pure spin.

It’s been obvious for a very long time that rampant consumerism, mega developments, unfettered growth, and the idea that bigger is better, is unsustainable. The unrestrained market economy only works for the wealthy, and has a huge downside for ordinary people, affordable housing, the environment, and our children’s future. Capitalism has gone berserk and we need a better, fairer system.

Byron Shire people have always understood the need to tread lightly on the planet.


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  1. Local businesses in Brunswick/Ocean Shores do not benefit that much any more from these festivals with the exception of supermarkets, and bottle shops. The first two years of festivals were pretty good for business in Brunswick but now the festivals have it pretty much sorted now so that their patrons can stay on site the whole time with their needs catered for.

    Takings in some businesses go down as many locals tend to stay away from town because they think it is going to be too hard for them to go about their normal activities. Takings where I work during Splendour were the same as any other day.

    I know that Byron wasn’t even booked out accommodation wise this year for Splendour.

    Where are their figures about being a boost to the local economy coming from?

  2. The government is increasing development and festivals in this region because some people want trains and trains require a much larger population base to support it. So knocking back development and music/sport events will put reinstating trains on the back burner for another 13 years. Oh dear this leaves us in a quandary!

  3. After Splendour I happened to visit one of my favourite emporia, Ballina tip shop. The yard had a large number of items of nearly new and unused camping equipment left there form the festival. I was told if it did not sell it owuld be donated to the homeless. but it did seem a striking example of what Louise describes. I am sure some people get a lot of enjoyment from these festivals but it does appear a lot more needs to be done to minimise their impact on the environment and on people’s lives.

  4. I drove by North Byron Parklands today as I do most days of the year to get to work. There was absolutely nothing happening there. It was quiet, green and peaceful. Why? Because the site only gets used currently for 8 days of the year! For the rest of the time there is absolutely nothing going on there other than a bunch of primary school kids running around for their school carnival. Sorry Louise, but your letters totally smack of nimby-ism and of someone desperately trying to create a sense of mass community objection. 18 people speaking at a meeting is not exactly representative of the wider shire. And it’s certainly not representative of the young people in this shire either. I’m sure if these two festivals moved to the Blues Fest site you wouldn’t care a whit and would quickly find something else to write letters about. And I’m sorry but what exactly do you know about the ‘local music industry’?


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