MONTHS of uncertainty over the future of Scotland’s biggest music festival was ended in just 90 minutes after councillors gave the green light to its controversial relocation.
Relieved organisers are finally able to press ahead with plans for T in the Park at its new home in the grounds of Strathallan Castle, in Perthshire, after concerns over the impact of the event on nesting osprey were swept aside.
Campaigners had also urged Perth and Kinross Council to reject the proposed site amid concerns over the level of disruption it will cause local residents and businesses, with more than 1,600 letters of objection being lodged.
However, promoters DF Concerts paid tribute to the “tremendous support” they had received during the lengthy planning process, which had been insisted on by the Scottish Government because of the event’s “significant economic impact”.
The Woodland Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds had been among the leading opponents of the festival’s relocation, although last month the RSPB said the event could go ahead as long as a host of strict criteria were met.
The promoters say they have been working with expert ornithologists to protect the three ospreys spotted nesting at Strathallan and had “gone above and beyond” with the preparations for the event.
DF has secured planning application just two months before 85,000 revellers are due to descend on the 1000-acre estate, near Auchterarder and Gleneagles. They were forced to uproot the event, worth more than £15 million to the economy, from its long-time home at Balado, in Kinross-shire, due to safety fears over an underground oil pipeline beneath the site.
Thousands of tickets had been sold in advance for the festival, with Noel Gallagher, Fatboy Slim, Kasabian, The Prodigy, The Libertines, and George Ezra among those booked to appear.
Geoff Ellis, chief executive of DF Concerts, said: “We’d like to thank the business and tourism sector who recognise the value of the event as one of Scotland’s national treasures and offered tremendous support throughout the process. “Most importantly, massive thanks go to the local communities surrounding Strathallan who spent a huge amount of their own time to show the country they warmly welcome T in the Park. We will deliver a festival to make them proud and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.”
Council officials had given their backing to the staging of the festival at Strathallan, despite fears over the amount of antisocial behaviour and traffic congestion the event would bring to the area. In the end, the application was approved unanimously by the planning committee.
A spokeswoman for the Strathallan T Action Group (Stag) said: “We’ve fought long and hard to try to ensure due process was followed, and also to ensure the wildlife of Strathallan was protected. We remain very concerned about the wildlife and hope that DF are able to deliver on every one of the many conditions attached to the planning approval.”
Carol Evans, Scottish director of the Woodland Trust, said the decision demonstrated a “disregard” for the long-established woodland surrounding the estate.
She added: “While we are not against the festival, these woods are too valuable for wildlife to hold an event of this size in such close proximity due to impacts including artificial light, noise and litter.”