T in the Park ospreys cost DF Concerts £1m

Picture: submitted

Picture: submitted

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T in the Park boss Geoff Ellis says that ospreys nesting on the festival site set his company back £1m.

Last night the DF Concerts director criticised “onerous” planning rules the contributed to the company’s profits dropping by almost half last year, as it moved to a new site at Perthshire’s Strathallan Castle.

Picture: PA

Picture: PA

In spite of an overall rise in turnover, the pre-tax profit of the company fell from £6.24m to £3.6m.

Mr Ellis has laid much of the blame at the feet of the rare birds of prey - which required constant attention and special measures during throughout the festival.

He said: “The already high costs of the move were further, and significantly, increased by the late discovery of an unregistered osprey nest, which in itself has brought about an annual increase in operating costs of around £1m per annum.

“It is ridiculous that these additional costs are due to the fact that we are constrained by and required to comply with the onerous, inflexible full planning conditions - most of them not relating to the ospreys, but that are only necessary because of the ospreys.

The sad irony is that we have now proven for two years, beyond all doubt, that the osprey does not only exist but actually successfully thrives alongside one of the world’s biggest music festivals.

Geoff Ellis

READ MORE: Call for T in the Park to relocate osprey nest

“It really does beggar belief.

“The sad irony is that we have now proven for two years, beyond all doubt, that the osprey does not only exist but actually successfully thrives alongside one of the world’s biggest music festivals.

“But still, we are treated the same way for a temporary event on one weekend as if we were a permanent development.”

Picture:  Lisa Ferguson

Picture: Lisa Ferguson

When the osprey pair were discovered on the site, DF Concerts paid for two 28-day long public consultations.

They also had to move the main stage and bring in bird experts to make sure that they were not disturbed - and introduce a buffer zone, as well as restrictions on lighting and fireworks.

After the conclusion of the festival last summer, RSPB Scotland said they were satisfied that the birds had coped well.

A spokesman for the group said: “The ospreys were closely monitored over the weekend and both adult birds are still present at the nest site with their chicks, and behaving normally.

“The package of measures stipulated in the planning consent, which RSPB Scotland called for, including changes to the festival site layout, introduction of buffer zones around the nest and restrictions on activities including fireworks and lighting, all appear to have been successful in preventing disturbance to the birds.

DF Concerts total turnover for 2015 was shown as £43.9m - up 1.8% on the year before.

READ MORE: T in the Park bosses ‘confident’ it will go ahead

But their diminished profits came as a result of a £3m rise in the cost of sales.

Explaining the figures, Mr Ellis said: “It’s probably obvious to observers that moving site for one of the world’s biggest music festivals would cost significant amounts of money.

“We were clear about this at the time of the move and it’s why we asked for help.”

DF Concerts received £150,000 of public funding on the year it moved to the new site.

The figures revealed that Mr Ellis received a dividend of £650,000 from the company.

This year’s event was overshadowed by drug-related deaths, scenes of drunken fighting in the camp site and crime, including the theft of a cash machine.

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