Blues Fest director Peter Noble spoke at a public meeting at the Byron Bay Community Centre today.
EMOTIONS are running high at a meeting in Byron Bay today where almost 100 people have gathered to share their opinions on the contentious North Byron Parklands proposal.
Late last year the State Government recommended the approval of the Yelgun site proposal, which would see Splendour In the Grass return to the Byron Shire plus two other major events with maximum crowds of 25,000 and 15,000, respectively, in the first year.
The State Government placed the final decision into the hands of the independent NSW Planning Assessment Commission, which hosted a public meeting about the development at the Byron Community Centre today.
In true Byron style, there was plenty of protest, outcry and noise at the meeting this morning, with passionate supporters and determined opponents coming head to head.
Chris Cherry from the Wooyung Action Group condemned the proposal and said the site was not safe for patrons due to the flood risk.
Ms Cherry presented a photo showing part of the Yelgun site flooded after last week’s heavy rains.
Ms Cherry claimed the site flooded two or three times a year.
“It’s about the risk to 30,000 patrons and it’s about how long it takes to convince 30,000 people in party mode to abandon their cars and evacuate,” she said.
“It’s about going through 10,000 camp sites to ensure… no one is asleep.”
Outside the meeting, North Byron Parklands general manager Mat Morris dismissed the claim that the site was unsafe.
“The way we put together our forecasting system is that we utilise Bureau of Metrology data and we utilise SES data and updates about flood warnings, river, catchment and rain (data).
“We ran a simulation of the system that we would have utilised and we would not have had an event (following last week’s rainfall).
“The north east corner of the site took 18-24 hours to rise in the area that it did (last week). It takes about eight hours to evacuate the site at its full capacity.
“We have 300-400 security personnel, police and other emergency staff available at our beck and call that can help us move people off site.”
“The Department of Planning were focused on public safety. The event operators involved in this project have probably sold in excess of 2-3 million tickets for events and have never had a major incident or death. Most festival areas on the east coast of Australia are built of low-lying areas.”
Blues Fest director Peter Noble said he thought it was “unfair” North Byron Parklands had approval to operate 365 days a year and Blues Fest only had operational approval for five days at their Tyagarah site.
An audience member accused Mr Noble of being “vicious” after he attacked Byron Shire Councillor Basil Cameron for heading a council events policy that, Mr Noble believed, would hinder their future in the Shire.
The meeting’s chair Kevin Sproats had to calm down the audience on a number of occasions after people yelled out during speeches.
Greens MP Ian Cohen is scheduled to speak at the meeting this afternoon, along with the Conservation of North Ocean Shores groups and the Byron Environmental and Conservation Organisation.
Another public meeting will be held at the Ocean Shores Public School Hall tomorrow morning.
Over 120 speakers have signed up to give their two cents at the meetings.
source: Northern Star
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