Hayley Acton and Helen Artup from Yelgun after giving impassioned speeches against the Splendour Festival being held at a site near their home.
Hayley Acton and Helen Artup from Yelgun after giving impassioned speeches against the Splendour Festival being held at a site near their home. The Northern Star

Splendour move gets go ahead

AN overflowing Byron Bay Shire Council chamber was riveted by the words of 11-year-old Hayley Acton yesterday.

The Yelgun girl spoke of her concern about Splendour in the Grass plans to trial a festival near her peaceful home.

Councillors nevertheless voted to give the festival a trial at its North Byron Shire Parklands site next year, subject to conditions.

"Remember how you supported this area, how you valued it? What changed, councillors?" Hayley asked.

"The reason my parents came to live in this beautiful spot is because of its peace and beautiful nature. If you think you can put 25,000 people in the nature reserve and it not affect the animals, think again."

Hayley was one of 10 people who addressed an extraordinary meeting yesterday and her sentiments summed up the feelings of most festival opponents.

The speakers were so numerous Mayor Jan Barham had to reduce the usual five-minute speeches to one and two minutes to get through them.

Yelgun resident Chris Coady called it a sham trial, saying it would be hard for the council to refuse a permanent festival if it approved this one.

"This is the first time so-called greenies and so-called rednecks have been united in something like this," he said.

Festival producer Jessica Ducrou said she was surprised by the opposition.

"We are genuinely surprised and saddened by the small, but very vocal, public response to our proposal," she said.

"We understand the Byron region is a passionate place and respect everyone's opinion, but naively we didn't imagine such controversy or the amount of malicious misinformation circulating.

"We understand that those closest to this proposal are afraid for their amenity, but we are confident through experience we can address and respond to these concerns successfully and allay any apprehension."

East Coast Blues and Roots Festival director Peter Noble also spoke in favour of the festival, saying the arts should be encouraged in the shire.

"As long as they're doing it properly. They should be doing it properly," he said.

When Splendour in the Grass organisers were informed that Belongil Fields, where the festival has been held since 2001, was to be rezoned for residential development they searched for and found a 267ha property and bought it, based on positive feedback from the council.

The council yesterday voted to allow a temporary music festival over four days starting July 31 next year. This date, however, is likely to change following a foreshadowed amendment at yesterday's meeting for organisers to lodge a section 96, changing the date to avoid conflict with the Byron Writers Festival.

The property, which has direct frontage to Tweed Valley Way, is bisected by Jones Road which will be tunnelled through as part of temporary infrastructure works.

Arakwal spokeswoman Yvonne Stewart said she was appalled about  the issue of unprotected indigenous artefacts.

"I'm saddened today," she said. "There must be some other way that they can gain access to this site. To see more cultural and heritage sites destroyed for the benefit of economic outcomes, I'm appalled and ashamed."

Splendour organisers said they had consulted indigenous groups and done archaeological surveys showing the 400m affected had no significant indigenous sites.


How beers around the campfire led to this very cool business

premium_icon How beers around the campfire led to this very cool business

They left their council and construction jobs to follow a dream

'You can't be weak in this': Nats vote on Hogan's future

premium_icon 'You can't be weak in this': Nats vote on Hogan's future

"I've had a lot of phone calls with people who are very upset"

'This will be huge': New show like a theme park ride

premium_icon 'This will be huge': New show like a theme park ride

"You'll come out saying, 'what did I just see?'”

Local Partners