FLY Open Air Music Festival – NTBCC’s Response to Request for Comments


23 August 2021

“New Town and Broughton Community Council take the view that events that require significant infrastructure build and de-rig out-with the Ross Band Stand area, both in terms of area used and time taken, are clearly major events and therefore not suitable for West Princes St Gardens (WPSG). We agree with the position taken by the Old Town Community Council in whose area this sits). Over recent years there is and continues to be a strongly emerging view that spaces like WPSG essentially belong to the people of the City of Edinburgh, as such they are used daily and extensively by residents and they should not be subjected to commercialisation.

Assuming that everything runs according to plan, the park will be occupied by FLY for 14 days.

St Cuthbert’s Churchyard is the only level access to WPSG that is suitable for those with mobility issues as well as those who are unable to navigate the steps and slopes whilst using wheelchairs and prams. Additionally, it is a popular through route for local residents and those working in the Old Town traversing to and from Princes Street. The proposed entrance closes WPSG to these people, creates clear equality implications and the site plan cuts WPSG in half blocking access from one side of WPSG to the other.

It is imperative that the top path remains open throughout the timing of the event, including set up and take down to enable public access for the event to meet its claim that WPSG will remain open to the public throughout.

The question on the form reads, “Will any area of the park be closed to the public?” Answer, “No – park remains open during build/break and event . . .”   but it is impossible for the park to be 100% open and accessible to the public during the time when a crew are working on the setup build/derig and the event is commercially ticketed.

This event risks damaging a valued green space within the heart of the city. During and post lockdown the civic value of this space for residents, tourists and families has been shown to be extraordinary. It is a safe space in the city centre for people and families to meet, enjoy leisure activities, experience nature and to appreciate how fortunate we are to have such a space in our city centre. It must remain available unencumbered to the public.

The gardens will in all probability be damaged. It stands to reason that an event of this size should be accommodated on hard standing, in an area some distance from the built-up city centre where pollution, whether light, noise or fumes are less of a problem, and festival goers are free to enjoy their event without the constraints levelled by residents’ requirements. The information provided does not confirm whether clean electricity will be used, so it is reasonable to assume that the festival promoters will again use diesel generators, contrary to the emerging City of Edinburgh policy on Edinburgh Carbon Neutrality 2030. Adding to
further environmental toxins for residents. The air does not suddenly become clear at the int the festival finishes.

High sound amplification is another concern. Are city centre locations ever appropriate locations for Open Air music festivals that utilise high levels of sound amplification for long periods of time? Pubs and other indoor venues in Edinburgh that host amplified music events are routinely required to ensure that the music is not audible outside the venue.

Why does this heavily amplified open-air event not have to meet such a condition?

The application is silent on robust monitoring and evaluation during the build to minimise access and damage issues. It is also silent on explaining and ensuring event timing and noise constraints are adhered to. Past FLY events have continued with a continuous techno beat for 10 hours each day, disturbing nearby residents in the New and Old Towns. (The information provided does not give the duration of performances, however it is not unreasonable to assume they will be as before.)

It is worth noting from reports from previous experience in 2019 that when the organisers have received noise complaints, amplifiers have been turned down for a short period of time only to be turned back up as soon as the people objecting left.

We invite the Council to ask the fundamental question – “is a techno, super high energy pop concert raving for 10 hours with ‘back to back’ performers and light show attracting 4000 attendees with alcohol available, again over a period of 10 hours a suitable use of WPSG?”

“Will it enhance Edinburgh as a World Heritage site?”

“Does it enhance the safe and reasonable enjoyment of the citizens of the area?”

We believe it does not do any of these things – NTBCC are therefore opposed to this event.

Laura Graham
Secretary, New Town & Broughton Community Council”

We received a response from the Council’s Parks Programmes Manager for Parks, Greenspace & Cemeteries on 24 August stating

Thank you for your feedback with regards this event on behalf of NT&BCC.  Please be assured that your comments have been noted and will form part of the decision making process due to take place shortly.