Scotland’s national tourism agency has intervened in the row over the staging of the nation’s biggest music festival arguing that it must be allowed to go ahead this year.
VisitScotland has broken its silence over a controversial relocation of T in the Park to the grounds of Strathallan Castle, in Perthshire, to praise the organisers and urge the local council to continue backing the event.
The fate of the festival rests on a decision on a planning application next month, with organisers warning the event could be killed off altogether if it does not take place this year.
Environment and wildlife groups have been lobbying against the event, which has also attracted protests about potential disruption from the five-star Gleneagles resort and some local residents.
VisitScotland’s chairman, Mike Cantlay, said T in the Park was now seen as an event on a par with the Open golf championship and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, saying: “It is an institution that must continue in Scotland.”
Mr Cantlay, who revealed he had visited the festival last year after its relocation was announced, said he was “very hopeful” the 2015 event would go ahead as planned.
He said that although one-off events such as the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, the latter of which was held at Gleneagles last year, had helped raise the profile of the country, it was vital annual high-profile events were backed.
Mr Cantlay said: “T in the Park is an absolutely key festival that I know is having issues in terms of its relocation. But I wish them well and I hope everything will be resolved.
“Knowing the council well in Perth and Kinross, and having worked so closely with them on the Ryder Cup, they’re a very go-ahead local authority and I’m sure they’ll be doing everything they can to support the event.
“T in the Park is an institution that must continue in Scotland. It’s right up there as one of our really iconic events, along with the Open and the Tattoo.
It is an institution that must continue in Scotland.Mike Cantlay
“From a tourism perspective, it’s a really important festival. The events in 2014 have been an amazing boost for the country, but we have to make everything we can of the events that happen every year.”
T in the Park was forced to relocate from its long-time home at Balado in Kinross-shire due to Health and Safety Executive concerns over a huge oil pipeline running underneath the site.
Promoter DF Concerts is having to seek planning permission for Strathallan because of ospreys which traditionally nest on the estate.
But thousands of tickets have already been sold for the event, which is worth about £15 million to the economy, at its new home in the 1,000-acre grounds of the 19th-century castle.
Mr Cantlay added: “The reputation of the event in terms of its organisation stands against best practice worldwide. I hope that will bring some comfort to people.
“I attended T in the Park last year. I’d never been and wanted to see it for myself. I had the benefit of seeing all the organisation backstage, the police and medical set-up and so on. It is a fabulously well-organised event.
“Anyone who is worried about this year should have confidence in terms of the standard of the event – it is superb.
“It’s only on one weekend in the year. They’re well-organised to go ahead this year and I’m very hopeful that it will. We’ll certainly give it whatever support we can.”
A spokeswoman for DF Concerts said: “T in the Park means a great deal to many people.
“It generates huge economic, cultural and social benefits for the country as a whole and we’ve enjoyed a huge deal of support throughout this process.
“Most significantly, we’ve had massive, growing support in the local communities surrounding Strathallan.”