Splendour decision 'within the month'

A decision will be made within the next month on whether Byron Shire Council’s approval of a trial Splendour In the Grass festival at Yelgun is valid.

The Chief Judge of the NSW Land and Environment Court has formally reserved his decision after three days last week of intensive legal argument about the validity of the development consent issued by the council for Splendour in the Grass to hold its 2009 music festival at Yelgun, north of Byron Bay.

Justice Brian Preston said he would make the decision within the month.

Conservation of North Ocean Shores Inc (CONOS) argued that the development consent issued by Byron Shire Council was void and of no effect because the development was in fact prohibited in the sensitive environmental protection zone which encompassed the Jones Road/Marshalls Ridge regionally significant wildlife corridor.

CONOS president Bob Oleman said the case was complex and involved some complex questions of law for the judge to determine.

“The development has a relatively large footprint that crosses various land-use zones, including the significant environmental protection zone which is intended to protect the very significant habitat values of the locality,” he said.

“Temporary Places of Assembly, which is how the music festival is characterised, is wholly prohibited in that zone.”

Mr Oleman said that CONOS had argued in the court that council was misled in discharging its legal obligations at the time of consenting to the development.

“Leading up to and during the council meeting in which consent was granted, so much of the discussion about the development application was that the 2009 festival event would be a trial and that many of the unknown environmental impacts would be assessed after the event to see whether there were unacceptable adverse impacts on the existing wildlife habitats as a result of the festival,” he said.

“The impacts of a proposed development must be assessed before consent is granted and legally council must form the opinion that it is satisfied that the development will not have an adverse impact upon existing wildlife habitats.”

Mr Oleman said CONOS was anxiously awaiting the court’s decision.

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