NORTH Byron Parklands, the venue for the Falls and Splendour in the Grass festivals, is facing the prospect of its trial approval running out before an application for State Significant Development is processed by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E).
Parklands is in the final year of its five-year trial and is seeking a 20-month extension to August 31, 2019 so Falls 2017/18 and Splendour 2018 can run. No other changes to the Concept Plan and Project Approval are being sought.
Parklands has submitted a Preliminary Environmental Assessment to the DP&E requesting approval to stage events after 2017.
The proposal is classified as a State Significant Development (SSD) and will be assessed under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
On January 18, the department issued Secretary's Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) for the proposal.
General manager of Parklands Mat Morris said he was hoping for a decision early in the second half of the year and was optimistic the extension would be granted.
"This application seeks to ensure that both Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival Byron can operate while the State Significant application is processed by the DP&E," he said.
"Parklands has successfully operated eight events under the trial approval with a very high level of compliance recognised by the DP&E.
"We can't envisage that the extension will not be granted based on this excellent track record."
Mr Morris said that due to the extensive nature of the SSD, the assessment and approval timelines for the permanent application were expected to be extended beyond the trial period.
Some locals remain opposed to the original bid for State Significant status.
Vice President of the South Golden Beach Community Association, Denise Nessel, said an assessment by the Crime Manager of the Tweed Byron local area command Brendan Cullen provided to the Planning Department regarding Parklands application for State Significant Development backed up many concerns of local residents
She said the group has not taken a position, as a community association, on the Parklands proposal to become a State Significant Development.
"What we have done is sponsor two meetings for our members and any other interested residents," she said.
"At the most recent meeting, on 4 March, we invited Tweed-Byron LAC Commander Wayne Starling to answer questions about the report that the NSW Police sent to the Department of Planning."
One of the main concerns held by the residents is the ability of the site to be evacuated in the event of a disaster such as a fire or a flood.
"The police say that at current capacity it would take 8 hours to fully evacuate the site in the event of a cataclysmic event," she said.
"What is going to happen if the the number at the festival rise from 32,000 to 50,000?"
Mr Morris said Parklands had a great relationship with police and had carried out extensive incident simulations with State Emergency Services and the Rural Fire Service.
He said the eight-hour evacuation figure related to a complete site evacuation, including people and vehicles.
"We would always look at the incident in question and if the threat is dire we have a contingency plan to move all the people off the site within 25 minutes," he said.
"In the event of a flood they would move to higher ground and in the event of fire they would move to an adjoining cleared 500 hectare cattle property."
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