Jun 21 2011 By Liam Murphy
ORGANISERS of a massive music festival in Wirral face the possibility that protected great crested newts could threaten their plans.
Cheshire Wildlife Trust are among those objecting to the current proposals to hold the Hudbu festival for up to 10,000 people at Wirral Rugby Club, near Clatterbridge.
A total of 40 individuals, including many local residents, have submitted comments along with two petitions opposing the event.
But concerns raised by Cheshire Wildlife Trust (CWT) about Thornton Common, a Site of Biological Importance (SBI) which consists of woodland surrounding several ponds, two of them large and fairly deep with muddy banks. The largest pond is adjacent to the Rugby Club car park.
According to the CWT: "In the last two years, it has been found that great crested newts have naturally colonised the largest pond, probably from the population known around Groveside Barn, Willaston Road."
In their letter, CWT said: "If the application is to be granted, strict conditions must be applied to the permission to avoid damage to the SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and SBI and the legally protected species."
These conditions would include security fencing plus guards to stop festival-goers from "trampling" Thornton Common.
But festival organiser Jai Byron insisted they want to make the event "socially responsible" and they had hired specialists to deal with noise, security and traffic – key issues raised by objectors, as well as contacting Natural England regarding the environmental concerns.
He also said they hoped to be able to bring a boost to the south Wirral economy and allow local traders to benefit from the influx of people.
Mr Byron said he has family living in the area, and the organisers took into consideration how it would impact locally, and said no speaker systems would operate after 11pm and steps would be taken to prevent antisocial behaviour and damage to local wildlife.
According to its website, Hudbu "aims to offer the ultimate boutique festival experience" and will allow for up to 4,000 campers.
Festival organisers are now set to meet with local residents this week in a bid to alleviate their concerns, but one said she and others are "very upset" about the event, and said: "It means that for three nights we can’t sleep, can’t leave the house." She said, following another event held nearby, there had been drunken revellers in the street at 3am and they had a traffic cone thrown through their window and added: "We can’t say it was connected, but it happened the same night.
"We are not being miserable about this, but it’s just not the right kind of area for something like this."
Clatterbridge councillors have already submitted a joint objection, led by Cllr Cherry Povall, who said: "The transport issues are just horrendous for a quiet backwater like this. The people who live near the rugby club are incandescent. Residents are very concerned."
Tickets, available through the festival website plus high street suppliers, cost from £55 for just the Saturday to £119 for a camping ticket or £195 for a VIP ticket.
The website adds: "Event is subject to licence".
A licensing hearing is due to be held next month.