A VEGAN spring festival will be able to go ahead next month after councillors ruled that all was in order with its licence.

Alexander Orion, one-third of the folk trio Mobius Loop, is the organiser of the Hemp Redemption Spring Festival, which is due to take place from May 12-14.

Somerset Council’s licensing sub-committee north met in Bridgwater on Wednesday morning (April 19) to decide whether the event could proceed after its environmental protection team raised concerns about noise and “public nuisance”.

But councillors ultimately voted that enough new information had been provided to allow the event to proceed safely and peacefully.

The festival is held at Avalon Priory in the village of Chilton Polden, just off the A39 Bath Road roughly halfway between Bridgwater and Street.

Its official website describes the three-day event as “a weekend of
hempathic happenings on the grounds of this stunning castle”.

The Hemp Redemption stage – which is solar-powered – will host a range of “live folk, fusion, psychedelic and mantra music” throughout the festival, which will also include group jamming sessions, poetry readings, hemp spinning and weaving, a sauna and a gypsy market.

Bridgwater Mercury: Entrance to where the festival will take place in Chilton Polden.Entrance to where the festival will take place in Chilton Polden. (Image: Google Maps)

The festival prides itself on being “100 per cent vegan” and family-friendly, with children under four being allowed in for free and no alcohol being served on site.

But Mark Shipley, the council’s environmental protection officer, lodged a formal complaint against the temporary event notice (TEN) issued to allow the festival to go ahead.

Addressing the sub-committee on Wednesday (April 19), he said: “There have been previous complaints of excessively loud music noise from past events.

“Discussions with the premises owner and previous event applicants have not given confidence that future events at the premises shall be held without causing nuisance to the nearest residential premises or residents at the Priory (which is a licensed house of multiple occupancy).

“There is no noise management plan or detail of how the prevention of public nuisance is to be controlled and managed.”

Mr Orion said that his event had the support of Glastonbury mayor Jon Cousins and that he had taken steps to address Mr Shipley’s concerns.

He said: “We have looked at the breakaway events in the camping area, which was the cause of our public nuisance last year.

“Since graduating from university in 2014, I have spent most of my time campaigning for green, sustainable, ethical solutions.

“This event is trying to demonstrate that in a small, low-impact, sustainable way – the only amplification will be in the form of a solar-powered stage which will be inaudible to all neighbouring properties.

“I have done my very best, having found out just before the Easter bank holiday weekend that there had been these objections.

“I have hired an event manager, who hires much larger events like Lovejam, and he will be on site.

“I hope this will alleviate any potential doubt as to whether we can manage public nuisance.”

Following a short adjournment, the sub-committee ruled that Mr Orion had provided enough information to allow the festival to safely go ahead.

Councillor Leigh Redman, who chaired the meeting, said: “It was unfortunate that Mr Orion had not liaised with our environmental protection team prior to submission of the application, and consequently they were right to object to the application given the lack of supporting information.

“However, it was clear from the evidence heard at the hearing that a lot of work and preparation had subsequently gone into this application and that Mr Orion had taken on board the concerns of the environmental protection team.

“Mr Orion did appear to be genuine in his desire to run a safe and well-managed event and had been receptive to addressing the concerns of our environmental protection officers.

“We were satisfied that the event plan and noise management plan, although submitted late and limited in detail in some areas, did address the majority of our officers’ concerns.

“We trust that Mr Orion will continue to work with them [the officers] to make the event management and noise management plans more robust. We were satisfied that with the additional evidence provided the event did now promote the licensing objectives.”