A question mark hangs over the head of Splendour In The Grass and Falls Festival’s future in Byron Bay, with the North Byron Parklands venue that hosts both events set to max out its government-stamped trial approval period at the end of the year.
Back in 2012, the Yelgun site was given the thumbs up to host big bashes like SITG and Falls for a five year stint. But that’s set to run out at the end of 2017, meaning that “under the current trial approval Falls Festival Byron 17/18 cannot operate” according to the grounds’ official website.
That means Splendour 2018 will have to be canned too, with organisers confirming that they’ve yet to secure a location for the festival beyond this year and are “not considering any other sites for the festival in 2018” (but DW, they promised that SITG2017 is “definitely” happening).
Never fear though, the team at North Byron Parklands seem to be mad keen to keep the good times rolling, and have made like a uni student and hit up the Powers That Be for an extension of their trial period.
They want the Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) to extend their five-year run for 20 more months to 31st August 2019, which would cover them for the next two Falls Festivals and the next three Splendours while they battle on to secure permanent approval.
“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,” says North Byron Parklands General Manager, Mat Morris.
“No other changes to either the Concept Plan or Project Approval are being sought,” he continues. “Importantly, event days and patron numbers would remain the same as currently approved, as well as all other existing consent conditions. The only change would be the trial period dates, essentially extending the trial period by an additional 20 months. With our current two events, this translates into 14 event days over the 20 month period.”
And the North Byron Parklands crew are definitely not acting like their gig’s in jeopardy, with Morris also confirming that “negotiations with several international artists are… well advanced for Splendour in the Grass 2018” and adding that “negotiations covering Splendour in the Grass 2019 will commence towards the end of this year”.
In the meantime, while North Byron Parklands continues to lobby the government for an extension of this trial period, they’re also calling on members of the community to hit them with feedback about their future plans for the venue.
It’s part of the process for their State Significant Development (SSD) application for permanent approval to host events like Splendour & Falls, which is a lengthy process that requires them to address a comprehensive list of environmental assessment criteria (called SEARs – Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements), which they plan to respond to by “undertaking detailed expert analysis and assessment of a wide range of technical matters, including consultation with key stakeholders and the broader community”.
Morris reckons that, due to the lengthy and complicated nature of this process, the assessment and approval timelines for the permanent application will extend well beyond the expiration of the Parklands’ current trial approval period, hence the need for the extension.
“The proposed modification would address all relevant environmental and amenity matters associated with the trial period extension, and allow the continued monitoring of the performance of the events over this period”, he says.
Previous Falls & Splendour events at North Byron Parklands have come under fire from residents and other interest groups who’ve complained about noise levels and raised concerns about the impact of the events on native wildlife.
You can have your say by sending feedback to [email protected] or PO Box 517, Bangalow, NSW 2479.