MORE than 250 people are opposing plans for a weekend music festival which could bring almost 5,000 revellers and campers to Newent.

The Onion in the Wood festival which is being planned for Newent Arboretum looks set to go-ahead next September after a premises licence was granted for the site last week.

Tickets for the event, the name of which is a nod to the town's internationally renowned Onion Fayre, are expected to be around £50 to £75.

And organisers say they hope to attract around 4,800 people to the Bradfords Lane site.

The festival will include camping facilities for visitors and staff in the fields next to the arboretum along with a VIP and caravan/motorhome parking.

But hundreds of residents have signed a petition against the proposals and are frustrated over the lack of public consultation by Newent Town Council over the plans.

They say the site is not suitable for such a large event and fear traffic will get stuck along the narrow Bradfords Lane.

Gareth Bradbury, who set up a petition against the festival which has been signed by 254 people, is among those deeply concerned about the three-day event.

“The noise, influx of people and alcohol consumption associated with such an event are not only disruptive but also detrimental to the tranquillity and ecological balance of this green space,” he said in the petition.

“Our arboretum is a sanctuary for both people and wildlife alike. It serves as a peaceful retreat for locals who seek solace from daily life’s hustle and bustle.

“It is also home to various species that could be disturbed by loud noises and human activities linked to such large-scale events.

“The event is proposed to be Friday to Sunday, with live music and alcohol sales until late at night.

“The noise, disruption, increased risk of crime and disorder makes this event wholly unsuitable to this venue.

“The arboretum borders homes and gardens, it is in a residential area, not in a field miles from neighbours.

“This petition aims not only at preserving peace within our community but also at safeguarding our environment and residents from unnecessary harm.

“We understand that music festivals can bring joy and economic benefits; however, we believe there are more suitable venues that would cause less disruption.”

Newent Onion Fayre Committee was granted the premises licence by the Forest of Dean District Council December 19 which will allow music to be played and booze to be sold over the weekend of September 13 to 15, 2024.

The licence will allow alcohol to be sold until 11pm on the Friday and Saturday and until 8pm on the Sunday.

Films, plays and dance performances will also be allowed at the site until 11.30pm on the Friday and Saturday and 8.30pm on the Sunday.

Car parking and camping is planned for the fields next to the arboretum.

Newent Onion Fayre Committee chairman Andy Offord said the plans are for “a weekend of family friendly music, food and entertainment all located in a magical woodland setting”.

He ruled out any “thumping DJ sets” and said the music would mainly be of genres popular with families.

“We are talking about middle of the road enjoyable music,” he said.

“We will be looking at wandering minstrels, performers, Morris men and hopefully the very popular belly dancers that we used to have at the Onion Fayre which were always fun.”

The event will also have a “food village” where people can try hot and cold produce and the site will also have crafts, yoga and meditation, he told the licensing sub-committee.

And there will also be children’s activities, circus skills, games and storytelling, he said.

Paul O’Neill, who is organising the event, told the committee the plan has been well thought out and prepared over months and it’s about keeping the Onion Fayre alive but also bringing it into modern times.

“We knew coming into Covid we would have to change,” he said.

“And Covid put the hammer on it.”

He said profits from the new event would go to local charities and the use of the land has been provided to them free of charge.

They want to make the event accessible to residents and there will be a discount for people with a GL18 postcode.

But several residents spoke against the plans at the meeting in Coleford.

Barrie Wellington, a resident of Bradfords Lane, and a former director of the company which owned the arboretum field said he wasn’t consulted about the plans along with many others.

“To me, an event is Glastonbury,” he said.

“They are talking about thousands of people. You’ve only got three acres of open land to have all these people on.

“We weren’t consulted by the town council or anyone else. We all feel we’ve been subjected to shock treatment.

“I came back from holiday and found the notice pinned to the arboretum car park gate.

“The decisions were made by the town council in February but nobody knew anything about it.”

Paul Johnson, another resident said the event would not be viable and said the depth of feeling in town over safety concerns and inconvenience of accessibility and noise will end up becoming a “militant action”.

“People will stop it. It’s that strong a feeling,” he said.

“There’s a whole estate nearby. How are those people going to get some sleep?

Gary Smith, another resident, echoed concerns that there has been no public consultation.

“The proposed number of 5,000 people does not seem possible with the added stages and stalls,” he said.

“It would be naive to think that by drinking all day and late into the night there would not be a risk of crime and disorder.”

Newent Town Council has not responded to a request for comment.