SCOTLAND’s biggest music festival has been forced to relocate from the airfield which has hosted the event for the past 17 years over safety fears about a pipeline running under the site.
A new location for the event will be unveiled today by organisers, five months after it emerged the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had demanded a permanent move away from its home at Balado, near Kinross.
Promoters DF Concerts had pledged to relocate the three-day event as part of its licensing conditions for this year’s festival, following repeated concerns about the risks of an explosion.
Sites in Stirling, Edinburgh and Loch Lomond have been touted as possible alternatives.
However, keeping the event in the Perth and Kinross area is understood to have been
the favoured option, because of its central location close to the motorway network and easy links to both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The organisers had been reluctant to move the event, which had its site reconfigured to try to appease the HSE, from Balado.
Other options in the Perth & Kinross area are thought to have included Braco Farm and Strathallan Airfield.
The organisers of the festival were remaining tight-lipped ahead of a press conference at a “secret location”, due to be held at lunchtime today.
This year’s event – which will be headlined by Arctic Monkeys, Calvin Harris and Biffy Clyro – will be the biggest in its history, after being given permission to run until 1am for the first time, as well as starting on a Friday lunchtime for the first time.
However, sources close to the event said the safety restrictions had proved an annual headache which would hamper any future growth of the event, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
One insider said: “Everything possible was done to stay on the existing site, as it was perfect for the festival’s needs in the past, but it has not been possible to overcome the concerns from the Health and Safety Executive.
“The issue over the pipeline was going to continue in future years and it has been a case of trying to find a more suitable site that ticks all the right boxes.
“Location has obviously been a crucial factor because of the size of the event and the huge amount of infrastructure the event now involves.”
T in the Park, sponsored by brewing giants Tennent’s, was launched at Strathclyde Country Park in Lanarkshire in 1994, but had to move three years later when it emerged the site was to be redeveloped. The event has grown since then, becoming a three-day festival in 2007.
However, the HSE has “consistently advised” against granting the event planning permission in recent years because of the risks linked to BP’s Forties pipeline, which runs underneath the site.
Alistair McNab, director of the HSE in Scotland, added: “The likelihood of any major accident at the pipeline is low, but if one were to occur, the consequences would be catastrophic.”