VILLAGERS have raised concerns about the impact of a dance music festival of up to 1,500 revellers planned for local farmland.

Walford Parish Council are due to discuss the proposed June 14-16 event at Great Howle Farm at a council meeting tonight (Wednesday, May 22).

But they say they were not informed of an application to Herefordshire Council to hold the event - including “Drum & Bass, Garage, House, and Disco” music until 3am – during the consultation period, which finished on May 10, and any decision to grant the temporary event licence is completely out of their hands.

An open letter addressing residents' concerns from the organisers of Gemfest, who include former parish councillor Gemma Curtis, has now been published on the parish council's website.

But some villagers who experienced the effects of a smaller 21st birthday event of up to 300 revellers last year, say noise will "boom through the valley", destroying their peace and sleep, and upsetting livestock and other animals.

A parish council spokesperson said that they are not a statutory consultee for licensing matters, and "were not directly informed" about the event.

"We only recently became aware of the proposal when a couple of councillors saw the notices posted locally at the planned venue on Howle Hill, and when various parishioners contacted the council to see if we had any additional information," they added.

"Our next council meeting takes place on Wednesday, May 22. We do have an agenda item for GemFest but any discussion will be limited to the fact that as the parish council is not a statutory consultee, it has no decision-making authority when it comes to the licence application.

"We may have some members of the public attend and raise comments during the public participation session."

One resident was told last week that her representation about a pre-event sound check had been rejected by Herefordshire Council’s licensing department, as it hadn't shown any evidence of a potential "public nuisance", and "fears and speculation" about the possible impact were not enough to refuse a licence.

The local parishioner, who didn't wish to be named, said a parish councillor had told her it was strange that the festival was not on the last agenda, but a pole dancing item was.

"And it is now advertised and tickets sold and bands booked, so it seems a fait accompli," they added.

"Given last year's party in a similar field location... we know that the noise will boom through the valley and basically no one will sleep or enjoy daytime hours...

"It seems wrong for a community to have this imposed and when they take the opportunity for a voice, this is not even listened to."

The open letter from Gemfestival Ltd and PullUp Recordings director Sam Southam - which lists Monmouth-based solicitor Alan Curtis and his daughter Gemma Curtis as festival co-founders and directors - says they expect less than 1,000 people at the event despite the 1,500 application, with all attendees inside a "locked, fenced perimeter" and unable to leave on foot.

He adds: "We are working closely with the Environmental Health Officers of Herefordshire Council on our noise management plan, to reduce disruption as much as possible."

Noise will be reduced at mid-night, and further at 2am, with other sound damping measures also in place, but he admits: "The reality is that those living in the immediate proximity of the event will hear the event at some point throughout their day-to-day business across the festival weekend. For this, I apologise...

"We have had an outpouring of great feedback, and where we have had negative feedback it has been well-measured and insightful. I am incredibly excited to work with local residents. I want this event to be a success for the area."

To read the open letter, go to

Herefordshire Council were asked to comment.