Splendour in the Grass should be the subject of an independent inquiry covering the ecological, safety and social impacts of the troubled festival, a Byron Councillor says.
As the Department of Planning continues to investigate North Byron Parkland’s traffic safety breaches during the rain-soaked event, Independent councillor, Cate Coorey, is calling for a far-reaching, independent review of the entire festival.
Cr Coorey has moved a motion, to be debated at this week’s Council meeting, proposing that Council write to Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts, expressing its serious concerns about the event and requesting that he initiate the review.
It would include the event’s ‘ecological, health and safety, social, public amenity, and business impacts, and any other impacts on the Shire’.
‘Several resolutions of Council have expressed multiple concerns surrounding the approval process and the final permanent approval given to the owners to hold increasingly large and more frequent events at the site,’ Cr Coorey said in her Notice of Motion.
‘Council never supported the use of the site, as per the 2019 approval determined by the Independent Planning Commission… and does not currently support it.’
Cr Coorey put forward a wide-ranging list of concerns including the health and safety issues that have occurred at the event.
Social media posts from the festival’s Facebook page is also included.
Exacerbating these, and other concerns, was the fact that the organisers of the festival have effectively been made responsible for monitoring their own compliance with the conditions of consent relating to the site.
Cr Coorey’s motion included a proposal that Council seek community feedback regarding the impacts of the event.
However, in a response to the Notice of Motion, Council’s Head of Planning, Shannon Burt, said that this was the responsibility of the North Byron Parkland’s Regulatory Working Group (RWG), which had been ‘operating for many years to review environmental management and community relations’.
She pointed to the minutes of the group’s most recent meeting, declaring that ‘an update to the RWG was provided at that meeting on the plans for STIG’.
However, far from indicating that the RWG was properly undertaking its oversight function, the minutes suggest the opposite.
Flooding not tabled
Despite being held on May 20, less than three months after the worst flood in the region’s recorded history, the minutes make no mention of possible flooding on the Parklands site, something which proved to be a major problem during the course of the festival.
Ms Burt also said that the RWG provided ‘the most immediate forum to receive and give feedback to the organisers of STIG’.
However, former members of the committee itself have indicated that, far from being an effective forum for providing feedback, the conduct of the group, both in policy and in practice, has limited the provision of effective feedback and criticism.