Hands off our Splendour!

Part of the big paying crowd that flocked to Splendour in the Grass last year picture:
Part of the big paying crowd that flocked to Splendour in the Grass last year picture:

THE Northern Rivers could be about to lose one of its biggest money-makers to Brisbane.

Producers of music festival Splendour in the Grass have refused to deny rumours they are moving the event north of the border.

The festival injects about $6 million into the Byron Shire economy annually and attracted 17,500 music lovers this year.

Festival promoter Jessica De Crou, currently in London, said ‘I can’t comment on that’ when asked about the move.

“I can’t say anything more at the moment,” she added.

The festival has been held at Belongil Fields, Byron Bay for the past nine years but must move because the land has been rezoned for residential development.

Splendour producers purchased 256 hectares of land at Yelgun in the northern Byron Shire and have been battling to move the event there for four years.

In July last year the Byron Shire Council granted consent to conduct a one-off trial event at the new site, called North Byron Shire Parklands, but the decision was challenged in the Land and Environment Court by residents’ group Conservation of North Ocean Shores (CONOS).

Six months ago the council’s approval of the event was revoked by Justice Brian Preston.

A North Byron Shire Parklands spokeswoman also refused to deny a possible move to Brisbane.

“I’m unable to comment on that at this stage,” she said.

Five months ago festival producers withdrew their application with the council for a trial event at Yelgun and the State Government stepped in as the approval authority.

A NSW Department of Planning spokeswoman said yesterday that festival producers lodged an initial application form in August, but they were yet to submit a full application, including an environmental assessment to move to Yelgun.

Byron United president Ed Ahern said it would be disastrous if the festival moved to Queensland.

“The benefit for our economy is enormous, especially in the middle of winter,” he said.

He said if the festival did move, protesters from the northern Byron Shire would be to blame.

“I think it’s a disgrace to chase such a fabulous event out of our shire,” Mr Ahern said.

“The small vocal not-in-my-backyards have held our community to ransom.”

CONOS president Bob Oehlman said he expected to be blamed for the move.

“We’ve already been blamed for everything,” he said.

“Whether they blame us or not, we’re used to it.”

Mr Oehlman said northern Byron Shire residents were not against the festival itself, but they did not believe Yelgun was a suitable site.

“We’ve said all along we weren’t against Splendour, just the location,” he said.

“I think the chaos that surrounds these mega festivals... Byron Bay doesn’t cope well with it and Jones Road (Yelgun) wouldn’t cope with it either.

“A city might be a better location.”

Queensland Events chief executive Michael Denton said Byron’s loss would be Brisbane’s gain.

“Queensland and Queensland Events would welcome with open arms an event like Splendour in the Grass,” he said.

“It is an iconic event with a fantastic reputation and if the opportunity presented itself then we would be very interested in ensuring that Splendour found a new home in Queensland.”

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