Now hear this! Glastonbury granted new 10-year licence despite history of noise disputes

Glastonbury Festival has proudly announced a new, 10-year licence from Mendip District Council.

The unopposed new licence, only the second to be granted to the festival without a public hearing, will run up to 2024. While the number of public tickets available will remain at 135,000, the agreement allows for more performers and staff on site, with scope for the number of passes to rise by 25,500 to 63,000.

Pyramid stage by Hope

Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis said: “It’s so good to have a plan that will help everything at Worthy Farm move forward. I really do believe that the best is yet to come.”

Licences for most previous Glastonbury Festivals were scrutinised via public hearings because of local objections or the safety concerns of parties like the police, fire and ambulance services. This latest application was made available in advance to various organisations including experts in public safety and noise management. Mendip District Council said the few issues raised had been resolved, so the council “saw no reason not to grant the festival its new licence, which will run up to 2024″.

Councillor responsible for licensing Nigel Taylor said: “The partnership work between Mendip District Council, festival organisers and other authorities, and the dedication to continually improve this event every year, means that this new application has received no representations.” Glastonbury Festival director Robert Richards thanked the councillors for working closely with the festival, calling the agreement “an example of the same team spirit that makes the festival the success it is”.

The conflict between paying punters’ desire to hear their idols’ performances and the local community’s wish for peace and quiet has rumbled on for years. In 2004, Paul McCartney broke the agreed 12.30am noise curfew, overrunning by just 10 minutes and incurring a £3,000 fine, which he later paid himself. In 2005 the Silent Disco was introduced to reconcile the event’s traditional late night parties with council insistence on a midnight curfew.

Too loud by Lee Jordan

2007 headliners The Killers said they were “gutted” by sound so poor that audience cries of “Turn it up!” were clearly audible, and Michael Eavis later admitted this was due to a combination of weather conditions and council pressure. In 2009 Bruce Springsteen landed the event another £3,000 fine when he stayed onstage for an extra 40 minutes to finish his 25-song fan-pleasing set.

In 2010, for the first time ever, the festival’s licence would be granted without a single registered objection. Local resident Adrian Scott said at the time: “Everyone in the local area benefits in one way or another, even if it’s just that your friends want to come and see you. We feel a sense of ownership about it – it’s our festival.”

So, has the vexed sound issue finally been resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned? Licensing board chair Jeannette Marsh spoke of checks and balances, saying: “We aren’t complacent – just because Glastonbury Festival now has a licence until 2024, this doesn’t mean it escapes the close scrutiny that any event this size will have.
We recognise how important it is to get this world famous event right, and the huge impact that it has on the local area and community, both positive and negative. It is our job as the local district council to ensure we use the opportunities it brings and mitigate the effects it has on local people – and we are confident that the new licence takes these issues on board and addresses any concerns.”

We’ll look forward to seeing how that plays out in practice.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *