Longitude is having a negative impact on Marlay Park, local group says

by Gary Ibbotson

Longitude festival is scheduled to take place in Marlay Park between Friday, 5 July and Sunday, 7 July.

The popular annual music festival will see international superstar acts such as A$AP Rocky, Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and Future entertain crowds upwards of 120,000 people over the three days.

However, although concerns of the environmental impact of the festival have been raised in previous years, this year residents and a local conservation group are calling on the county council to ban the festival from taking place in the park.

‘Protect Marlay Park’ conservation group says that the waterways, wildlife and woodlands in the park are being damaged with the continuous hosting of the festival at “heritage and wildlife sensitive areas.”

The group are concerned that the ‘Ha-Ha’ ditch, which runs through the field on which the festival takes place, is in a “very poor state with the deterioration being more apparent after each set of concerts.”

“The Council needs to take urgent action to protect this structure.

The group also fear that the placing of pontoons over serpentine ponds has “disturbed nesting wildlife.

“Which is an offence under the Wildlife Act,” the group says.

They say the local bat population is negatively impacted by the festival, too.

“Bats, of which eight species have been identified at Marlay, are protected under the EU Habitats Directive.

“The excessive noise and light on concert days causes a disturbance to bats. Disturbance to bats is prohibited under both National and EU legislation.

“The ponds, waterways and woodlands in Marlay Park should NOT be used for concerts,” the group says in a statement.

In the application made by the organisers, Festival Republic to the local authority, the organisers say they will continue to “monitor” the environmental impacts.

Noise levels, the build up of litter, crowd build up, traffic congestion, and the protection of flora and fauna will all be monitored.

According to Festival Republic, revenue earned through the festival is put back in to supporting the repairs and maintenance of the park.

The company also says it will aim to “minimise” the damage to the ground and agree with the county council on the positioning of bridges across ponds and waterworks.

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council says that the funds have “contributed towards vast improvements in Marlay Park.”

“Funds were also invested in the restoration of the Marlay Craft Courtyard, the redevelopment of the College Road Car Park, the removal of Breton slabs from the Marlay Ha-Ha, improvements to Marlay Estate railings and improvements to footpaths in the Grange Road area.”

However, an exact breakdown of how much was spent on each project was not disclosed.

FOIs filed by the Protect Marlay Park group requesting as to how the revenue received was spent in recent years was rejected due to the “record concerned does not exist or cannot be found.”

Since 2001, concerts throughout the Summer have taken place in Marlay Park.

However, this year Longitude is the only major music event to take place.

“We don’t have shows there this year due to scheduling,” says Pascale Miller, a licensing coordinator at Festival Republic.

“We tried to put concerts in this year but there are a lot of factors that are considered; who’s touring at the time, are they suitable for the venue, what kind of production is involved etc. It just didn’t work out this year.

“The same thing happened in 2017, we only had Longitude Festival,” he says.

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