Jessica Ducrou.
Jessica Ducrou.

Splendour in the Grass on the move

THE rumour is confirmed. Byron Bay music festival Splendour in the Grass is moving to Queensland in 2010.

Event organiser Jessica Ducrou yesterday announced the iconic event would temporarily relocate to Woodford, north of Brisbane, while it works through the NSW Government approval process for its site at Yelgun.

The 10th anniversary event will run over three days next year from Friday, July 30, to Sunday, August 1.

Splendour has consent to run the festival at Woodford for two years, but if the Yelgun site, known as North Byron Parklands, is approved earlier than anticipated then the festival may only be in Queensland for 2010.

The move was welcomed by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who described it as a ‘major coup’ for the State.

“This is great news for Queensland music lovers and locals who will reap the benefits of such a big event,” Ms Bligh said.

She said it would pump at least $13 million into the local economy, and she praised Moreton Bay Regional Council’s prompt endorsement of the festival: “The eagerness to work with event organisers, the venue owner and the State Government shows they know the importance of generating opportunities to support the local economy and the great way of life for people who live here.”

Ms Ducrou, who feels the festival has been pushed out of Byron Bay, said it was ‘lovely to feel wanted’ in Queensland.

Splendour in the Grass has been held at Belongil Fields for the past nine years, but organisers had to look elsewhere in the shire due to a potential rezoning of that site. They purchased land at Yelgun and have been battling to move there for four years.

Byron Shire Council last year gave consent for a one-off trial event at Yelgun, but this was revoked after environmental group Conservation of North Ocean Shores (CONOS) challenged the approval in the Land and Environment Court.

The NSW Government has since stepped in as the approval authority and organisers are preparing the required information for this process.

Ms Ducrou was confident approval would be forthcoming and hoped Splendour could return to Byron in 2011.

“Obviously Byron is our home and we want to be at North Byron Parklands,” she said

But she was highly critical of the council’s attitude towards festivals, in particular the draft policy on public events it has recently developed which she describes as ‘negative’, ‘onerous’ and ‘limiting’.

“The policy is an absolute slap in the face. If this is adopted we’ll be struggling to see a future for us in the shire,” she said.

The NSW Minister for Tourism, Jodi McKay, backed Ms Ducrou’s comments, saying Splendour’s move north was disappointing for the local tourism industry and music fans.

She said it was concerning the council could not see the growth potential of Splendour and that council’s draft events policy would stifle the growth of major events in its area.

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