Bluesfest organiser Peter Noble is behind the push to move to Tyagarah.
Bluesfest organiser Peter Noble is behind the push to move to Tyagarah. David Nielsen

Bluesfest goes bush

BLUESFEST is hoping it can celebrate its 20th anniversary next year at a new venue at Tyagarah, north of Byron Bay.

But Michael Chugg, the promoter of Bluesfest, must be crossing his fingers that Tyagarah will prove luckier for him now than it did in 2001.

In February that year a planned 6000 person 'intimate' gig by rock legend Bob Dylan at a private racetrack there was scuttled because of residents' opposition
Dylan ended up playing the concert in Ballina's Kingsford Smith Park.

Over the weekend local residents were invited to view detailed plans of the proposed site - a working tea tree farm in Grays Lane, Tyagrarah  - and speak to consultants about their concerns.

This year's Bluesfest site at Belongil will not be available next year as its owners are looking to rezone and develop the area.

The proposed new site at Tyagarah is owned by Bluesfest and they hope to have a development application lodged with Byron Shire Council by the middle of the year. The site is larger than previous venues.

Bluesfest managing consultant Greg Alderson said Tyagarah had been earmarked because of the minimal impact on neighbouring properties, but consultants were keen to hear the views and concerns of local people.

A team of experts has worked to examine the impacts on flora, fauna and ecology, cultural heritage, fire and flood risk, emergency evacuation procedures, traffic management, economic and acoustic impacts, and environmental sustainability initiatives.

Bluesfest's commercial manager Vickii Cotter said no permanent structures would be built on the site and no areas would be cleared. Existing roads would be used, although some may need to be widened.

"I think the feedback generally has been valuable and we have taken on board concerns, including traffic management, noise abatement and access to beaches. We may also have to look at improving public transport to help patrons get to and from town in a Bluesfest bus."

Other concerns include disposing of sewage and ensuring the safety of patrons.

Mr Alderson said vegetated areas including dams and creeks would be fenced off to prevent damage and to ensure the safety of festival patrons.

Social consultant Jane Stanley said some Tyagarah neighbours were concerned that turning the property into a festival site could be 'the thin edge of the wedge'.

"But all the developer is interested in is staging Bluesfest each year. There is no interest in doing any more than that," she said.

Ms Cotter said the use of hay bales to muffle concert noise had been successfully used at Belongil this year, and similar noise abatement was being considered for Tyagarah.

On a tour of the site Mr Alderson pointed out that the camping area and the car park would be on the driest areas of the property.

 Bluesfest general manager Matthew Lazarus-Hall said the feedback on Tyagarah from residents would still be taken into account.

"We want to try to minimise inconvenience to neighbours," he said.

But it's hard to keep everyone completely happy.

Public comment is welcome via email: until the end of the month.

Bluesfest organiser Peter Noble is overseas.

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