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Picnic problems Electric Picnic organisers could 'in theory' apply for new licence - but not for 70,000 fans

Under the Planning Act they (Festival Republic and MCD) can’t appeal the Council’s decision to not grant a licence to hold the festival catering for 70,000 people."

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Festival-goers at the Throwback Stage during the last Electric Picnic in 2019 at Stradbally in Laois

Festival-goers at the Throwback Stage during the last Electric Picnic in 2019 at Stradbally in Laois

Festival-goers at the Throwback Stage during the last Electric Picnic in 2019 at Stradbally in Laois

Electric Picnic organisers could ‘in theory’ re-apply for a new licence to hold the three day festival, the Laois County Council chairman has revealed.

However even if another application were to be made, there would not be scope for the size of festival that organisers had envisaged, he said.

Promoters Festival Republic and MCD wanted to run the festival at full capacity – with plans to allow 70,000 revellers attend from September 24 to 26. All tickets sold for last year’s festival cancelled due to Government restrictions around the pandemic were to be honoured.

Last Wednesday evening the Council decided to pull the plug on the September event, stating the decision was due to the “most up-to-date public health advice” available from the HSE.

The local authority also said that “current Government measures for the management of Covid-19 events of this nature are restricted to 500 people only”.

Fine Gael Councillor and Council chairman Conor Bergin said “in theory” festival organisers can re-apply for a new licence to stage the event but not to host the original number of people it had hoped for.

“Under the Planning Act they (Festival Republic and MCD) can’t appeal the Council’s decision to not grant a licence to hold the festival catering for 70,000 people. However, they can in theory re-apply for a new event licence but not for as many festival goers.”

He added: “I am firmly against the event going ahead this year in its current format and I share the concerns of the community in Stradbally who do not want the event to go ahead and who agree with the decision of Laois County Council to refuse the licence.

" I believe that this was the right decision in the current circumstances with Covid. I know it is a very disappointing decision for music fans, such as myself who like to attend every year.”

In an email to councillors Joe Delaney, Director of Services at Laois County Council pointed out that there is “no right of appeal” against refusing to grant a licence.

Mr Delaney said: “Councillors further to the decision earlier this week to refuse a licence to hold the 2021 Electric Picnic event at Stradbally there has been some commentary regarding an appeal of the decision. I wish to set out to you the position in respect of the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended on this matter.

“An application for an event licence is made pursuant to Section 231 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended. Unlike an application for planning permission for the development of a house, shopping centre etc under Section 34 of the same Act, there is no right of appeal against a refusal by a local authority to grant an event licence under the Planning and Development Act of 2000 as amended.”

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The Council chairman revealed that the organisers “have not indicated” if they will pull out of holding the 14-year-old Festival in Stradbally Hall nor Laois.

It is understood that there is a 10-year agreement with the promoters and the owners of the venue to stage the event at the Stradbally location.

In a statement, festival organisers said they continue to review their options on how to proceed and will “be in contact directly with all ticket holders” over the coming days.

They called on the Government to interrupt their Summer recess to issue reopening guidelines for the sector from September 1 onwards. The Council’s refusal to grant a licence drew the ire of Coronas' front man Danny O’Reilly along with other well-known music stalwarts Liam Gallagher and Bressie.

Festival organisers had outlined some of the measures they intended to implement this year if the festival went ahead.

They included the pledge that only those who are vaccinated can attend and they will team up with the Department of Health for contact tracing.

They said their proposed measures are even more restrictive than the current guidelines surrounding indoor hospitality and large sporting events.

They also highlighted Ireland’s high vaccination rate, the positive outcomes of test events and how a live music event will take place in Belfast next week – which is of course on the same island as us.

Organisers concluded by citing the destruction that has been done to the live entertainment sector.

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