More festivals with more people? Have your say.

The Planning Assessment Commission is holding a public hearing on North Byron Parklands (Splendour and Falls site) next Tuesday. If you want to speak you have to register by midday this THURSDAY!! You can also make a submission.

There are several reasons why this site should be under control of Byron Shire Council, NOT the state government that are so keen to foist it on us. Here are some reasons why this extension should not be granted:

Reasons to object to the 20-month extension that North Byron Parklands is seeking:

  1. Condition C1 of the existing Concept Plan approval calls for Byron Shire Council to give further approvals for festivals after the end of 2017. The development should be controlled by local authorities to mitigate the impacts we have experienced since the five-year trial began. Sydney-based control doesn’t work.
  2. Parklands was granted special status by the Department of Planning under Part 3A of the planning act, and that allowed the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) to over-ride local regulations and concerns in order to grant approval. When Part 3A was revoked in 2011 by the O’Farrell government, Parklands kept its Part 3A status because that government labeled it a “transitional” development. The heavy hand of the now-revoked Part 3A should not continue to be used to support this development.
  3. The Department of Planning in Sydney is supposed to be enforcing the consent conditions of this festival development, but they have issued only one compliance report since the first event in 2013 and have handed out only three Penalty Infringement Notices (fines) in all that time: 2 for excessive noise and 1 for excessive patron numbers. However, locals have observed at least 80 breaches of consent conditions and other irregularities since 2013. We should not be subjected to another 20 months of poor oversight and lax enforcement from people who are based in Sydney and apparently don’t have enough time to pay close attention to what’s going on at Parklands.
  4. Although the immediate effects of festivals are very unpleasant (noise, traffic, crowds, trash, anti-social behaviour), the long-term effects on the environment are of even greater concern. Parklands’ ecological monitoring has been inadequate and has not even met the most basic conditions of consent that were imposed by the PAC. Their reports continue to claim that their interventions have had no impact on the environment of the site or of the adjacent Billinudgel Nature Reserve, but their data do not support their conclusions, nor does common sense. Tens of thousands of people, and the waste generated by their presence, have cumulative effects on the environment—in this case, an important wildlife corridor and nature reserve.The most recent example of environmental negligence was the sale of 50kg (or more?) of plastic glitter at Splendour 2017: Splendour’s promoting glitter vendors is appalling. When these tiny bits of plastic leave the bodies of revelers, they work their way into the soil, drains, waterways, beaches, and ocean to be consumed by wildlife or to simply join the rest of the plastic debris that is slowly destroying our environment.
  1. The NSW Police issued an alarming report following Splendour 2016. As they explained in a community meeting, they had raised the issues with the Parklands staff in the past about festivals but didn’t see effective operational changes, so they issued a written, public report to list their concerns. As the police said, the local command cannot provide sufficient police for the event and the local community during festivals, drugs and alcohol were again significant issues, internal roads were not sufficient for emergency access and lighting is insufficient. In addition, they mentioned grave concerns about internal traffic management and emergency evacuation, saying that during a festival the site could not be evacuated in 8 hours. Given the issues they raised, the appropriateness of Parklands as a festival site is highly questionable under any circumstances, even for festivals at current scale.
  2. Parklands says they need time to prepare a proposal to become a permanent festival site as a State Significant Development. They’ve known since 2012 that their approval would expire at the end of 2017, so they’ve had five years to put a new proposal together. It’s not the responsibility of the NSW government to give them extra time and support because they have delayed for so long.
  3. Parklands haven’t had to pay section 96 (developer) contributions to the local council because they are classified as a “trial”. If the trial is extended, they will be able to again avoid these contributions.
  4. This extension, if granted, would pave the way for what Parklands wants: a significant increase in festival days and significantly increased daily attendance. That needs to be stopped. Refusing this 20-month extension is the first step.

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