Buloke Shire Council denies application from Maitreya Festival organisers to hold future events at Lake Wooroonook

Lake Wooroonook will no longer be home to the Maitreya Arts and Music Festival. Picture: SUPPLIED
Lake Wooroonook will no longer be home to the Maitreya Arts and Music Festival. Picture: SUPPLIED

MAITREYA Arts and Music Festival will have to find a new home for future events.

At its April meeting on Wednesday, Buloke Shire Council passed a motion to refuse the use of Lake Wooroonook for the purpose of a commercial place of assembly.

Land at Lake Wooroonook is Crown Land owned by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and is managed by council.

The council received a request on March 7 to license the land, along with a planning permit application from Maitreya Festival organisers. The application requested permission to hold two events a year across a five-year period.

Organisers submitted the application despite failing to refund an estimated 1500 tickets from its cancelled 2016 festival at Lake Wooroonook.

Interim chief executive Anthony Judd said the department provided the council with written refusal of consent to use the land for a music festival.

“The Maitreya Arts and Music Festival was staged at the lake in 2015 and the applicant was non-compliant with a range of conditions on their license,” he said.

“The applicant then applied for a license for an event in 2016 but was refused on a number of grounds.

“Following this refusal the applicant defied court orders to cease use and development of the land causing significant damage to the land and bringing significant cost on Council.

“The environment at the lake is only beginning to recover from the two events.”

Maitreya Festival organisers were "non-compliant with a range of conditions" during the 2015 event. Picture: THE GUARDIAN

Maitreya Festival organisers were "non-compliant with a range of conditions" during the 2015 event. Picture: THE GUARDIAN

No community consultation was undertaken by either the department or council, however festival organisers held public meetings in Charlton and Sea Lake prior to submitting their planning permit application.

As a result of those meetings, 10 joint letters were tabled at the March meeting requesting council to consider allowing the festival to take place.

Mr Judd said council would continue to work with promoters of potential cultural events to have them staged at appropriate venues. 

“Council will advise the applicant of the refusal to grant consent, which would render the application for a planning permit futile,” he said.

“That correspondence will go out within the week and we will doubt be in further discussion with festival organisers.

“There are other options available to the organisers and they are aware of those.”

The Wimmera Mail-Times contacted festival organisers who are yet to respond to queries.