A dance music festival that organisers hope to hold on a nature reserve has been denied a licence.

Waltham Forest Council' s licensing sub-committee announced yesterday (May 18) that concerns over increased crime, safety, noise and the effect on wildlife had led it to turn down an application for the Waterworks Festival, planned for Leyton Marshes.

The team behind the festival hoped to hold a weekend-long electronic music festival every summer for the next three years on the site, near the Waterworks Nature Reserve.

Around 350 submissions opposing the application were received, from concerned wildlife lovers and neighbours as well as officers for Hackney Council and the London Wildlife Trust.

The council’s decision reads: “There had been a significant number of public representations to reject the application and little public support contained in the representations.

“Local residents, based on their experience of noise in their locality, including other music events, were significantly concerned about the impact of noise from this event on their quality of life during the August holiday period.”

Regarding concerns the festival would disturb protected bird species, the committee found “there was at least a real risk that such birds would be present and nesting in areas likely to be disturbed by the event”.

Read more: Waterworks Festival insist event would not disturb wildlife or residents

Responding on Twitter, resident Conchita Navarro wrote: “Dear @WalthamForestCo, I and others applaud the decision to Reject the Waterworks music festival application.

“I know the decision was multilayered but part of it shows you decided to protect the environment and the quality of life for locals. Huge gratitude.”

At a virtual meeting held on May 12, several objectors expressed concern about protected bird species in the area.

Abigail Woodman of campaign group Save Lea Marshes said: “Loud music will affect birds’ ability to hear, mask their ability to communicate, disrupt their behaviour and startle them. The London Wildlife Trust agrees.

“The application should be turned down, our wildlife is simply too precious to do anything else.”

Others had objected that noise and an influx of revellers would cause a public nuisance, referencing previous events in the area that made their lives “unbearable”.

Rika Bunder told the committee: “Sound travels long distances in this area, funnelled from the floor of the valley by the prevailing wind.

“The [2018] Holi Festival was horrendous. Every person in this area could hear every word of every song, even with the doors and windows closed.”

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At the same meeting, the Waterworks team insisted they were experienced in holding outdoor music events that did not disturb nature or the community.

Director Thomas Paine, who has worked with Bristol festival Love Saves The Day for nearly a decade, said: “Local residents have some real concerns because there’s been a badly-run event here and they are passionate about the site.

“But I’m confident in year two they will say it was a really well-run event and it worked.

“In Eastville Park [where Love Saves The Day is held] the nearest resident is 50 metres away and we had just seven noise complaints over the weekend.

“There will be not just one but two environmental reports to locate any area where birds are nesting and clarify what time of year they are used and we will plan accordingly.

“We take this responsibility really seriously, we come back year after year. This is our job, we are professional event organisers and we stand and fall on our last event.”

The team has yet to respond for a request to comment on the council’s decision or their plans for the future of the festival.

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