Plett Rage venue sparks rage

Or­gan­is­ers want to hold fes­ti­val on Cen­tral Beach; res­i­dents don’t like it

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - YOLANDE STANDER

OR­GAN­IS­ERS of the Plett Rage stu­dent fes­ti­val are at their wits’ end after years of lo­cal op­po­si­tion to the event reached fever pitch this week and they were forced to find a new venue for this year’s mul­ti­mil­lion-rand get-to­gether.

The fes­ti­val brings thou­sands of school-leavers to the coastal hol­i­day town ev­ery year and con­trib­utes just short of R50 mil­lion to the lo­cal econ­omy dur­ing the pe­riod.

The or­gan­is­ers have sub­mit­ted an oc­ca­sional land use ap­pli­ca­tion to the Bi­tou Mu­nic­i­pal­ity to host the fes­ti­val along the town’s pop­u­lar Cen­tral Beach.

The ap­pli­ca­tion is not only for this year’s fes­ti­val, but also for the next five years.

But while most lo­cals con­cede the fes­ti­val is a mas­sive boost for the lo­cal econ­omy, some be­lieve hold­ing it at the beach could have a negative im­pact not only on marine life, but also res­i­dents and busi­nesses in the area.

Project man­ager Ash­ley Brown said the rea­son for the move was that last year’s venue was no longer avail­able.

Last year’s event was hosted on the Ganse Vallei farm, also known as the Plet­ten­berg Bay Waste Wa­ter Treat­ment Works, but the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is cur­rently up­grad­ing the works.

“Another el­e­ment of the venue change is due to the noise com­plaints from the camp­ing grounds across the N2, although most campers dur­ing this time were Plett Ragers.

“It’s re­ally up­set­ting to see so many lo­cals not sup­port us as a fes­ti­val when the week brings so many new faces, fu­ture tourists, and new clien­tele to the town,” Brown said.

He added that Plett Rage num­bers had in­creased, which meant the event had “out­grown” its orig­i­nal venue – the VIP Club in the town’s in­dus­trial area.

Or­gan­is­ers said that over the past decade, Cen­tral Beach had played an in­te­gral role in Plett Rage, pro­vid­ing day­time entertainment and a recre­ational space for the stu­dents. This usu­ally wrapped up at sun­set at around 8pm.

Or­gan­is­ers now pro­pose that Cen­tral Beach become the new venue for the Rage by ex­tend­ing the entertainment un­til 10pm.

The oc­ca­sional land use is ex­pected to be in op­er­a­tion from Novem­ber 24 to De­cem­ber 2, 2017.

The ac­tual host­ing of the event will take place from the De­cem­ber 1 to De­cem­ber 9.

The pro­posal sug­gests the site will in­clude three mar­quee tents with al­co­hol pur­chase points, a main elec­tronic dance mu­sic stage; a VIP stage and DJ deck, ven­dor ar­eas to pur­chase food; pro­duc­tion zones; ATMs; por­ta­ble wa­ter clos­ets, an emer­gency tent, fenc­ing around the fes­ti­val for security pur­poses, and venue op­er­at­ing cen­tres.

Brown said sev­eral mea­sures would be put in place to min­imise the in­con­ve­nience to lo­cals and busi­nesses.

Park­ing would still be avail­able for busi­nesses within the precinct as stu­dents would be shut­tled to the fes­ti­val grounds in buses.

“Although Plett Rage is hop­ing to be able to host the fes­ti­val right in the mid­dle of the town, we’re do­ing our ut­most to get the best sound and pro­duc­tion sup­pli­ers to help us cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that is not only en­joy­able for the fes­ti­val- go­ers, but also make it bearable for res­i­dents.

“The lay­out of the stages will also be fac­ing to­wards lesser pop­u­lated res­i­den­tial ar­eas to re­duce the noise pol­lu­tion.”

Polly Bramham of the Plet­ten­berg Bay Com­mu­nity En­vi­ron­ment Fo­rum said while the fes­ti­val was a sig­nif­i­cant event on the lo­cal calen- dar and brought with it ben­e­fits, the fo­rum ob­jected to the pro­posal as it would “only pro­voke a negative re­sponse from res­i­dents, and cause ad­verse ef­fects on tourism and on marine wildlife in the bay”.

“This is a mo­men­tous pro­posal that should have been put out for proper pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, in­stead of which there ap­pears to have a very ob­scure and mis­lead­ing no­tice pub­lished; ap­par­ently to avoid fore­see­able pub­lic out­rage,” Bramham said.

“Many of the tourism busi­nesses that run di­rectly from Cen­tral Beach are re­liant on the res­i­den­tial and mi­gra­tory marine life that is found along Plett’s coast­line.

“In spite of the sug­gested pa­ram­e­ters, it is un­re­al­is­tic to sup­pose that the cur­fews will be ad­hered to, or that the bass lev­els will be kept down.

“Such noise pol­lu­tion is detri­men­tal to marine mam­mals, and likely to cause lo­calised move­ments; con­se­quently these will see negative im­pacts on eco-tourism.”

The Plet­ten­berg Bay Ratepay­ers and Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion had sim­i­lar con­cerns and sug­ges­tions.

Sec­re­tary Mar­garet Marshall said due to the prox­im­ity to sur­round­ing res­i­den­tial ar­eas, the noise would be “highly disruptive and un­ac­cept­able to all sur­round­ing res­i­dents and to other tourists”.

Brown said if one looked at some of South Africa’s big­gest mu­sic fes­ti­vals, such as Op­piKoppi and Rock­ing the Daisies, one quickly re­alised that although these fes­ti­vals were mul­ti­mil­lion-rand oper­a­tions, they both made use of farm­land as their fes­ti­val space.

“This venue type re­moves all clien­tele from its lo­cal cen­tral busi­ness district, own­ing the mo­nop­oly of all spend­ing, in­clud­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion, food, leisure spend­ing, al­co­hol, and entertainment,” Brown said.

“We have been ap­proached to fol­low suit, but we love Plet­ten­berg and there­fore we have made the bold de­ci­sion of fo­cus­ing our fes­ti­val around the town.”

He added the fes­ti­val di­rec­tors had al­ways wanted and en­cour­aged the sup­port of lo­cal busi­nesses, ac­com­mo­da­tion sup­pli­ers, tourist at­trac­tion and restau­rants, but had seen a small group of in­di­vid­u­als “go out of their way to re­volt against host­ing the fes­ti­val”. – Gar­den Route Me­dia

PIC­TURE: DAVID RITCHIE

Stu­dent rev­ellers fill up a venue in Plet­ten­berg Bay at a pre­vi­ous Plett Rage event.

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