Campers at 2017 Falls Festival.
Campers at 2017 Falls Festival. Marc Stapelberg

$1 per camper: festival venue's contribution to council

THE music festival and event venue that hosts Splendour in the Grass and Falls Byron Bay will enter into an planning agreement for a voluntary contribution scheme where the venue will pay a monetary contribution of up to $120,000 a year to Byron Shire Council if North Byron Parklands gets approval from the NSW Government to host events indefinitely.

The $42 million development application to make North Byron Parklands a permanent home for Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival was referred on Tuesday by the Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) to the IPC for a final decision.

The IPC is the consent authority for the development as Byron Shire and Tweed Shire councils objected to the proposal.

The report sent to the IPC explains the agreement Byron Council has achieved with North Byron parklands owners, Billinudgel Property Pty Ltd.

"While (Billinudgel Property Pty Ltd) has committed to continue implementing existing measures to manage litter, anti-social behaviour and access issues such as maintaining a litter response team and a community hotline, the (it) has also committed to entering into a Planning Agreement with Byron Shire Council to address some of the residual amenity impacts expressed by local residents,” the document reads.

"The agreement would require the applicant to make a one dollar contribution per festival camping patron per night (up to a maximum of $120,000 per year), which would be managed in accordance with Byron Shire Council's draft Voluntary Visitor Fund and allocated to public infrastructure projects in the surrounding region.”

North Byron Parklands general manager Mat Morris said the voluntary planning agreement

"In consultation with Byron Shire Council and DP&E, it was strongly recommended to us entering into this agreement would be a sign to help the community in which we operate,” he said.

Mr Morris said the venue put forward only one caviet for this agreement.

"We were very interested in making sure that any moneys raised from this voluntary planning agreement were expended in the north of the shire, being the area that we operate in,” he said.

"We are keen to make sure that Brunswick Head north received the funds and I understand that Council would be putting together a panel with community and Council representatives plus accommodation and festival operators and, I suspect, they would be then charged with the responsibility of distributing funds.”

Mr Morris said he has received assurance of this in writing from council.

Asked the reason for this, given that the impact of music festivals can be seen in Byron CBD and other places within the shire, Mr Morris

"Because it was n accommodation-driven contribution scheme, the focus is on those we accommodate on site by ways of camping,” he said.

Mr Morris said the original idea came original from Mayor Simon Richardson.

"(Richardson) had been looking for opportunities and ways for industry to help Council deal with the influx of tourists,” he said.

'We have committed to the voluntary scheme but we have gone one step further and we are signing a voluntary planning agreement that sets in legislation a requirement for us to pay that money to council regardless whether they go ahead with the voluntary contribution scheme or not.”

"Hopefully Simon is successful in bringing other accommodation operators on board.”

Byron Shire Council was contacted for comment.