BAW BAW // DESPITE having no say in the approval of the event, councillors heard community concerns and support for the Beyond the Valley music festival at their public meeting on Wednesday.
The three-day music festival is planned to be held at Lardner Park from 29 December 2015 to 1 January 2016. Residents of nearby properties presented Baw Baw with a petition opposing the event a fortnight ago, which prompted councillors to request council officers prepare a report on what was planned. That report was accepted by councillors on Wednesday.
Before accepting the report, councillors heard comments from people opposed to and supportive of the festival.
Those opposed expressed concerns about noise, traffic, dust and undesirable behaviour they believed would be created by the event. Another common complaint was Lardner Park Events had not consulted with nearby landholders, who found out about the plans from friends and media reports.
“I believe, had we been given the opportunity to have a community meeting… that would’ve helped appease some of our anxiety,” one submitter said at the meeting.
A spokesperson for the event organisers said the event was well received when hosted in Phillip Island last year and would inject $2 million into the local economy. The spokesperson also said drugs and alcohol would be well monitored.
While councillors heard the concerns, they will not be the ones deciding whether or not the event goes ahead at Lardner Park. The officers’ report on Beyond the Valley stated Lardner Park Events has a long history of operating entertainment events at the site and organisers would have to comply with a council officer-enforced Place of Public Entertainment permit and other standard planning controls before holding the event.
The PoPE will assess, among other things, safety, road access, emergency management and noise. Council officers said that under the Environmental Protection Act, the PoPE would require music only be played between 08:00 and 23:00, or 08:00 and 22:00 if the event exceeds five hours. A maximum volume would also be set.
“Based on the current information provided as part of the PoPE, the music would not be able to exceed 22:00,” the officers’ report read.
“If the event wishes to exceed these hours then a separate approval from the EPA will need to be sought.”
The Beyond the Valley PoPE was lodged with the council on 23 October and is under consideration.
The officers’ report also concluded responsible authorities need not conduct consultation sessions as the applicant need only satisfy legislative requirements.
According to the organisers’ spokesperson, tickets for the event have been been capped at 16,000 people across the three days.
“I actually think these people could have 20,000,” the spokesperson said.”
“But they have been responsible and capped it at 16,000.
“I’ve read comments on social media that there will be hooning. We don’t want people to be encouraged to drive. At our festival you cannot leave; you drive in and your car is parked for the duration. If you are off-sited you are off-sited without your car.”
The spokesperson said the event had been selling between 20 and 50 tickets to the event per day in the last 60 days. Tickets range from three-day passes to one day access.
“The fourth day is the bump out day, and [visitors will leave] relatively early on that day, New Year’s Day,” the spokesperson said.
On accepting the motion, Drouin ward councillor Tricia Jones said the turn out of concerned locals at the meetings, as well as supportive submissions and comments from Lardner Park neighbours and the general public, was “true democracy” and praised the report for providing facts to dispel misinformation grown from poor communication.
“One lesson we all should have learnt this evening is Lardner Park is among rural properties; people do live there and [need communication.]”
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