Sandon Fields Festival set to go ahead despite row over protected red kites

A banner advertising the Sandon Fields Festival has been slashed, and another stolen. Picture: Richa

A banner advertising the Sandon Fields Festival has been slashed, and another stolen. Picture: Richard Maskell - Credit: Archant

Banners for Sandon Fields Festival have been destroyed amid a row over whether the event should take place, with neighbours concerned for the welfare of a protected bird species living nearby.

Red kites in Sandon are causing disagreements between festival organisers and locals. Picture: Gary

Red kites in Sandon are causing disagreements between festival organisers and locals. Picture: Gary Sanderson - Credit: Archant

The festival – which is in its second year – is set to go ahead on Saturday and Sunday at Poplars Farm in Roe Green, near Sandon, and offers a wealth of entertainment from live music, to bouncy castles and slides.

Ian Dell, who lives close to the festival site, is one of those concerned about nearby red kites which may leave their nest and young behind if disturbed.

He said: “There’s a nest 20 yards away from the event location, and for them to be disturbed is a criminal offence.

“With regards to the red kites themselves, the organisers are aware that they are in the location and the report that has been written by a specialist has been taken into consideration, however the sound levels are likely to be very high.

“It will almost certainly cause disturbance for the birds. I don’t think they will abandon their young, but if there’s movement through the woods then the risk is much higher. I hope the organiser will have a good security policy to prevent this.”

When asked about what he thinks regarding posters advertising the event being slashed and stolen, Ian said: “All the objectors to the music festival are decent law-abiding citizens and would not resort to such tactics or activities.”

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According to Ian, 83 per cent of residents are against the music festival.

However, event director Richard Maskell has said more than 55 per cent of Sandon villagers have shown interest in attending.

“Sandon Fields is a community music and world food event,” he said. “We are showcasing both chart topping and local talent.

“Unfortunately, there is a small collective minority of the village that are trying to shut down this event via any means possible. The event is only once a year for one and a half days. With regards to the sign slashing, it’s all a bit petty to me.

“Following concerns of some local residents the Sandon Fields event site has been visited by a representative of Natural England who has assessed the situation concerning nesting red kites in Roe Wood.”

Organisers have pledged £5,000 to Sandon JMI school and will be donating some of the event proceeds to the Samaritans.

An RSPB volunteer, Martin Johnson from Royston, went to the site to have a look earlier this week.

He told this newspaper: “Realistically, I don’t think that a nearby red kite nest is going to stop, move or change what is obviously going to be quite a significant festival, particularly as the festival is on private land.

“I imagine the kites will survive OK, particularly as the young should be fairly well grown by now.”

A police spokeswoman said: “We have been made aware of residents’ concerns regarding nesting red kites on the site of the upcoming Sandon Fields festival this weekend.

“Officers were given wildlife advice by Natural England which has been conveyed to event organisers ahead of the festival.

“They have been liaising with both parties as well as local residents and will be in attendance over the weekend to capture any issues as they arise.”

Along with Hitchin-born Alex Francis, performers at Sandon Fields Festival over the weekend include tribute bands Adored – a tribute to The Stone Roses – The Kast Off Kinks and Oasis tribute band, Definitely Mightbe.

As well as two music stages there will also be three dance arenas and three licensed bars serving beer, cider, spirts, prosecco and Champange.

Food choices will include pizza, Mexican, fried chicken, burgers, hot dogs, noodles and a variety of sweet treats to choose from.

Tickets are available online at They can also be bought on the gate for £30 on Saturday and £15 on Sunday.