OTCC objects to FLY Open Air Music Festival, 18th to 24th September 2019

Old Town Community Council strongly objects to Fly Events Ltd’s application for permission to run the Fly Open Air Music Festival at West Princes Street Gardens (18th to 24th September).

Our objection is on the grounds of public health, public safety, the creeping commercialisation of West Princes Street Gardens and the associated exclusion of residents from our local park.

The lives of Old Town residents are already seriously compromised for eight months a year : April and August, October, and mid-November to mid-January.

In 2019, we have been inconvenienced by :

  • West Princes Street Gardens being occupied by the Edinburgh Summer Fiesta (2nd to 9th July). The licence was granted on 4th July. It is understood the performers and City Council may have been left out of pocket. While the Company was only incorporated on 31st January 2019, it would appear there is an active proposal for the Company to be struck off.
  • West Princes Street Gardens being occupied throughout August by the Summer Sessions for 9 performances, with the DF Concerts infrastructure being left in place throughout. The licence was granted on 17th June.
  • Approximately 36 festivals dotted around Old Town– a number lasting for up to 28 days each. These include the Fringe – the World’s largest ticketed-event, after the Olympics and World Cup. While the Olympics and World Cup are almost always located in many cities and they are always pump-primed with lots of additional investment in infrastructure, the residents of Old Town are left to make do with the same under-resourced infrastructure, while our day-to-day living is seriously compromised by the throngs of visitors, the associated verbal abuse, insecure stairwells (short-term lets), noise from buskers and the abundance of licensed premises overprovision throughout much of the night in the neighbourhoods where we live.

Residents on the High Street, Lawnmarket, Cowgate, Grassmarket and neighbouring areas in Old Town desperately need to escape from all of this. We need a space that offers some peace, some quietness and relatively fresh air. Such a space exists and we call it West Princes Street Gardens.

If the Fly Open Air Music Festival goes ahead at West Princes Street Gardens between 18th to 24th September, then residents will loose our sanctuary of peace, its relative quietness and fresh air for yet another week in 2019. We strongly object for the following reasons :

  1. Public Health. Over the last ten years, the effects of decisions taken by City of Edinburgh Council have exposed Old Town residents to considerable pressures to our mental health and to a lesser extent, on our physical health too. In the 2011 Census, Old Town residents reported our collective health was already in the bottom third of the 44 Community Council areas administered by the City Council. In contrast, most of our neighbouring Community Council areas are in the top third. About half of all data zones in Old Town are in the 20% most deprived areas in all of Scotland. In other words, our health and economic status are already seriously compromised. It is therefore economically important for the City of Edinburgh Council to focus more on residents – this additional focus should help delay and reduce our collective needs for more social housing, social welfare and social care – services that would require extra funding from the City of Edinburgh Council and elsewhere in the public purse. For every £10,000 that would have been received from Fly Events Ltd, this would easily be consumed for each additional resident whose independence deteriorates and then needs the social welfare or social care necessitated by the cumulative effects of living in Old Town and having to cope with millions of visitors on our streets every year, while we are left to cope with outdated and compromised infrastructure.
  2. Public Safety. The Fly Events Ltd application requests permission for six days from set-up to shipping out. 11 hours are requested on each of two days and 4 hours are requested on the third. Residents are already having to cope with the DF Concerts Summer Sessions concerts where noise levels are peaking at 103 decibels – this is louder than the peak noise levels of the flyover of two Typhoon planes (99 decibels) at last weeks Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The Fly Open Air Music Festival exposure times would be 1000s of time greater than that of the Typhoon planes. The 103 decibels noise intensity is many times above the 8 hour time-weighted average permissible for workers. The Summer Sessions festivals have loud periods when bands are on stage and quiet periods between performances. This is not the case for the Fly Open Air Music Festival, where the extremely loud music would continue unabated for up to 11 hours a day, and for three days in a row.
  3. Commercialisation. The proposed location is on the cusp between central Edinburgh’s two UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is highly unsuitable for this Application. We believe that ticketed-events requiring exclusive access as a commercial requirement, are simply not suitable for our local park (Princes Street Gardens). Therefore, we are against any commercial business making use of our local park for profit, at the expense of the convenience of the general public, visitors and local businesses – and over unacceptably long periods of time.

Fly Events Ltd has not outlined plans for returning the Gardens to the state they would have received them. They have not indicated if they will take their waste with them, or will it end up in nearby communal bins, thus causing even more inconvenience for residents (and costs to the City of Edinburgh Council).

Other events already planned include, the Oktoberfest tent and live music (30th October to 3rd November) and Mark Ronson’s Hogmanay in the Gardens.

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