Police want ‘extreme’ festival axed
Police are fighting to shut down a three-day music festival scheduled to be held in remote bushland due to "overwhelming safety concerns" that pose "extreme risk" to attendees.
Bohemian Beatfreaks is hosted on a 3000 acre remote private property about 55 kilometres southwest of Casino in northern New South Wales.
It features music acts, cultural activities, a market village, outdoor cinema, yoga and health classes, and various workshops.
But police today withdrew support for the event after inspecting the site and deeming it unsafe for attendees, emergency services and the local community.
"We have a considerable list of safety concerns," acting superintendent Toby Lindsay said.
Police withdrawing their support means organisers could be forced to cancel the event, with a court battle now under way.
"We have advised festival organisers to rectify those issues but we have not been satisfied that the risk to public safety has been appropriately addressed," Mr Lindsay said.
Among the "extreme" risks identified by police are severely restricted vehicle access in the event of an emergency, poor communication infrastructure, a lack of perimeter fencing and the area's bushfire-prone location.
There is also strong potential for harmful drug use and excessive alcohol consumption, with police saying they had detected "large-scale drug use" at previous events held on the site.
Whether the event can be held is now in the hands of the Land and Environment Court.
"We have identified safety issues that are totally inadequate for a festival site and we simply can't support it going ahead in its current form," Acting Superintendent Lindsay said.
"As police, it's our job to protect people as expected by our local communities."
Rabbits Eat Lettuce, the company holding Bohemian Beatfreaks, has held festivals at the property in the past. A request for comment has been made.
Thousands of people are expected to attend and camp in surrounding bushland, with promoters advertising around the clock musical performances over the three days.
On its website, organisers warn attendees about police presence on roads in and out of the site and to be cautious of drug possession.
However, it also warned against any anti-social behaviour.
"We aim to create a space conducive to human creativity and freedom of expression," the website said.
Police also expressed concern about the risk of overcrowding, an unfenced dam in the area and the location's long distance from emergency services.