T IN the Park will cease to be if conservationists win their attempt to stop this summer’s massive event, the head of the organisers has told Scotland on Sunday.
Geoff Ellis, of DF Concerts, claims the biggest stage show in Scotland, which boosts the economy by £15 million, might never happen again if planners side with those opposed to the proposed new site at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire.
Although thousands of tickets for the 22nd T in the Park have already been sold, the three-day concert is still awaiting planning approval from Perth and Kinross Council. Public consultation on the plans ends on 24 April and councillors will debate the application at a meeting still to be arranged for next month.
Ellis, who was challenged about concerns raised by the Woodland Trust, insisted Strathallan was the “right venue” to take over from Balado.
Asked on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme yesterday whether the festival would continue if it did not take place at Strathallan, he said: “I don’t think there is a venue, without going very far north in Scotland, which would be viable for T in the Park; so yes, I don’t think it would carry on if we didn’t host it at Strathallan this year. Scotland needs T in the Park.”
After the programme, he told Scotland on Sunday: “The point I was making was that by the logic of the Woodlands Trust, if T in the Park can’t work at Strathallan then how could it work anywhere in rural Scotland?”
There have been issues about an osprey nest at the site, but organisers stress they have a good working relationship with the RSPB in an attempt to deal with that.
However, Charles Dundas, of the Woodland Trust Scotland, said “irreplaceable” ancient woodland could be lost if the festival goes ahead at Strathallan, adding that festival organisers had not done enough to satisfy them that nature would be protected.
But Ellis said: “We’re in the middle of a live planning process and when the final location of the osprey becomes clear, we will work with the relevant organisations on the development of our plans to agree an appropriate buffer zone and manage it accordingly.
“Aside from this, our planning application and environmental statement answers all questions posed by the statutory consultees and we remain confident that we can ensure the long-term protection of wildlife as well as the future of the event of Strathallan.”
The organisers announced in 2012 that the event would have to leave Balado due to its proximity to a pipeline.
Last year they said the preferred option was Strathallan Castle. The discovery of ospreys on the site meant that the criteria changed and DFC submitted a planning application and an environmental statement.
A spokeswoman for Ellis later added: “The Woodlands Trust had the wrong classification of the woods, claimed that we might harm wildlife, such as badgers, that don’t live on the site, and referenced trees that have not been present at Strathallan Estate for almost 40 years.
“If we were to accept their logic, no festival should take ever take place near old woodlands – which would effectively rule out outdoor events taking place anywhere in the countryside.
“We’re confident that we can not only deliver T in the Park but that our aspiration is to safeguard the site’s environment for the long-term,” said the spokeswoman.