A controversial dance music festival in the Herefordshire countryside next weekend has been given the go-ahead after organisers offered to bring forward its closing time on both nights.

Scheduled for Friday June 14 until the following Sunday, originally till 3am each night, at Great Howle Farm south of Ross-on-Wye, GemFest 2024 faced widespread opposition from nearby residents, leading to it being passed to Herefordshire Council’s licensing subcommittee of councillors to decide today (June 7).

But organisers revised their bid shortly before the meeting, asking only that it be permitted to run until midnight both nights.


Among numerous addresses to the committee, Richard Gwyn Powell, speaking on behalf of his mother, a nearby resident, claimed the planned event would “would attract individuals with malicious intent, posing a significant risk of crime and disorder”.

Committee chair Coun Polly Andrews pointed out that the police had made no objections to the proposal.

Resident Chris Freeman said that “past experience tells us the bass-heavy music will echo round the valley”, while husband David Freeman called for acoustic barriers around the site beyond the hay bales already proposed.

Andrew Corbett said the proposed 12 qualified security staff would mean “a high ratio of revellers to staff”, while there were “rumours locally of an influx of young people with no tickets”.

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Jacqueline Bradbury claimed that local holiday accommodation owners have had to forgo income over the weekend, while others have taken time off work in anticipation of losing sleep.

Defending Gemfest’s application, agent Nick Semper said “a drop-out rate” meant there would only be 600-800 festival attendees at any one time, with around 500 camping, adding: “Glastonbury this isn't.”

A temporary event notice (TEN) for a more limited event has already been issued, “so it will go ahead anyway”, he said.

Objections had come not from authorities but solely from residents “who are no doubt good people”, but whose concerns had already been dealt with in submitted documents, he claimed.


“Fear and speculation are not admissible, responses should be evidence-based,” Mr Semper said. “There is no history of problems at this site.”

Event organiser Sam Southan added he had already given out his personal contact details locally, via which noise concerns could be addressed during the event.

The subcommittee approved the application on condition that the previous TEN be withdrawn and the revised premises licence adhered to.

“The subcommittee fully recognises the concerns brought by residents and the reasons for them,” Coun Andrews said. But application “is comprehensive, and will promote the licensing objectives”.