Police ensure festival doesn't go to the dogs

POLICE are warning drug users to watch out at Splendour in the Grass as sniffer dogs mingle with festival goers for the first time this year.

Byron Bay police are stepping up their presence both in town and at the festival, with reinforcements coming from Sydney.

“There's an increased police presence and they will be working Friday and Saturday night within the CBD,” said Acting Inspector Doug Conners.

“And there's further police that will be specially tasked to work in the centre of the Splendour festival as well as highway patrols monitoring drink-driving.

“We also have the drug-testing bus coming from Sydney and there will be four sniffer dogs at the festival site, so watch out.”

This year is the last that the festival will be held at Belongil Fields, where it has been since its first event in 2001.

On Thursday Byron Shire Council voted to approve a development application for a trial festival at the North Byron Shire Parklands site at Yelgun that the organisers bought in 2006.

Yelgun resident Chris Coady said there was no support for the event in the north of the shire and they would organise a meeting soon to discuss plans to take the organisers to the Land and Environment Court.

“I'm absolutely disgusted. It's a totally inappropriate development in an environmentally-sensitive area and it's going to gridlock the whole of the north of the shire,” he said. “They could not have picked a worse spot for it.”

North Byron Shire Parklands general manager Mat Morris said he hoped the trial would prove the event could work without too much disruption to local amenities.

“It's going to show clearly one way or the other whether there has been an unacceptable impact on social amenities and the environment,” he said.

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