Saturday, July 7, 2012

Elton is Vey Keen to Play Byron Bay

A BIG win for music in the Byron Shire is how Bluesfest director Peter Noble described the Department of Planning and Infrastructure's decision on major music events.

The department refused a proposal by Byron Shire Council to introduce a major events clause into its Local Environment Plan 1988 to limit big festivals and concerts in the shire to two a year.

The draft clause also proposed to prohibit major outdoor music events in three zones: residential (2A); water catchment (7C) and urban coastal lands (7f2).

Mr Noble said even though he was happy with the decision, the events policy had divided the community.

"The proponents of this policy should be called to account, as this issue has cost the council a huge amount of money that could have been better spent fixing the pot-holes in our roads," he said.

"This decision is a big smack in the face for certain councillors. The council needs to listen to the community."

Mr Noble said he believed that if council refused an application for a music event that met all criteria, that could be challenged in court.

Bluesfest has spent more than $100,000 on legal advice fighting the policy and had a petition that gathered more than 10,000 signatures.

Mr Noble said he had a statement from Elton John, via Michael Chugg, saying that he hoped to finally perform in the Byron Shire when he next tours Australia.

"Sir Elton said 'If I'm good enough to play for the Queen of England, then I'm good enough to play for the queen of Byron'," Mr Noble said.

Yesterday Bluesfest lodged a DA with the council to hold a Boomerang Indigenous Festival at its Tyagarah site later this year or early in 2013.

Byron Council's acting executive manager of environment and planning, Sharyn French, said the council would keep working for a sustainable Byron community.

"While the council will need to look at other ways to ensure the sustained protection of the environment, resident amenity and the success of the tourism industry, the overall importance of these issues remains despite the planning department's decision," she said.

- Northern Star

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