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March 8, 2021

Residents group urge limits on large fest site

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North Byron Parklands site. (file pic)

Two residents groups are urging the public to attend an upcoming meeting by a government agency to hear community’s concerns over allowing a Yelgun festival site permission for 50,000 patrons.

The State Significant application by the North Byron Parklands is for a permanent home for music, arts and cultural events in northern NSW. A public meeting will be held by Independent Planning Commission (IPC) on December 10 at the Ocean Shores Community Centre from 10.30am.

The site is home to Falls and Splendour In The Grass festivals.

Parklands general manager Mat Morris said, ‘A huge amount of effort and care has gone into our application. It’s very comprehensive, based on five years of venue performance data, and has significant technical and expert reports included.’

But Richard Whitling from Conservation of North Oceans Shores (CONOS) says, ‘How could it ever be considered reasonable to allow an international consortium to milk their profits by degrading an Australian environmental and cultural jewel?’

‘Of all the potential places that huge music festivals could be held, these festival owners will only consider holding them within this major wildlife corridor connecting World Heritage hinterland areas with the coastal protected forests.’

‘We’re talking Falls and Splendour In The Grass festivals, plus another three festivals totalling over 115,000 people per year being enticed into a unique environment. Over 85,000 of whom will be camping there. We’ve seen and heard the impact and its totally unacceptable at this location. Festivals are great in appropriate locations, but not here! These numbers of festival revellers dwarf the local population of 6,500.’

‘Over 50 threatened animal species have been impacted during the trial phase of conducting these festivals. In addition, special and sacred Aboriginal sites are widely scattered in this locality. CONOS Inc has spent some 30 years preventing vandalism of these amazing values and seeking permanent protection”.

‘Noise from these festivals can be heard up to 10km away! Incredibly, the organisers declare that there are no major environmental impacts. This is nonsense beyond belief.”

‘We now have our last chance to tell the government that Byron Shire does not need two major music festival sites (Yelgun and Tyagarah).

‘The government is holding a public meeting to hear the community’s concerns. We urge those who want to contribute to protecting our environmental and cultural treasures to arrange to state their concerns either in person or in writing for the public hearing by contacting the government’s Independent Planning Commission on (02) 9383 2100 before December 5 in time for the hearing on December 10.

‘We have further information on our Face Book Page at CONOSInc and a petition with over 1,700 local signatories.’

Byron Residents Group

Meanwhile the Byron Residents Group (BRG) have echoed concerns made previously by police regarding effective evacuation and say they are concerned at the recommendation for 20 days a year and a ‘staged’ increase to 50,000 attendees per day, plus 7,000 workers, stallholders for large festivals.

The police submission for the application reads, ‘The increase in occupancy to 42,500 patrons will only be supported by NSWPF when the proposals and recommendations in the Response to Submissions report (RTS) relating to such an increase are implemented and able to be assessed against the increase in occupancy.’

It concludes, ‘The concessions and mitigation strategies proposed in the RTS appear to be reasonable and prudent. However, these should be tested in a process of gradual increase (to 42,500 patrons per event day) prior to approval for an increase to 50,000 patrons per event day.’

IPC replies

An advert placed in both The Echo and The Byron News claims the IPC wants to ‘hear from as many people as possible.’

The Echo asked the IPC why the meeting wasn’t organised for a weekend or after hours, to ensure as ‘many people as possible’ were able to participate?

A spokesperson replied, ‘This proposal is obviously of considerable interest to the local community and the Commission is certainly keen to hear from as many people as possible at the public meeting.’

‘We understand that not everyone who wants to have their say on this proposal will be able to make it to our public meeting. That’s why we provide the option for interested individuals and groups to send us their written comments. All submissions, both spoken and written, will be carefully considered by the Commission as part of its decision-making process. The deadline for written comments is Monday December 17.’

NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) has published their assessment of the application, which includes independent reviews from relevant agencies. It can be found at https://bit.ly/2BCjiG1.

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