ORGANISERS of the T in the Park music festival insist they are “confident” this year’s event will get the go-ahead ahead - after months of protests about potential disruption and environmental damage over its proposed new home.
Promoters DF Concerts say they have gone “above and beyond with meticulous detail” in their planning of the event ahead of a crucial decision by councillors over its controversial relocation to the grounds of Strathallan Castle.
DF Concerts have built T in the Park into a significant social, economic and cultural event, but it is not an event which must happen at all costsStrathallan T Action Group
They insist they have seen “massive growing support” for the staging of the event in the 1,000-acre estate, near Auchterarder, despite a high-profile campaign to try to thwart the 85,000-capacity event.
There are fears over its impact on local wildlife, including nesting ospreys, while businesses like the five-star Gleneagles resort have raised concerns about the levels of disruption the event may bring.
RSPB Scotland today said the festival could go ahead as long as strict measures to protect nesting ospreys are enforced, including 250 metre wide “buffer zones”, relocating various infrastructure, and restrictions on lighting and fireworks.
However the Woodland Trust, one of the most outspoken critics of T in the Park’s proposed move from its long-time home at Balado, in Kinross-shire, said more than 3,000 of its supporters had signed a petition against the staging of the event at such an “inappropriate” venue.
As the consultation period for T in the Park’s planning application drew to a close, DF Concerts said it was intending to keep the event, worth around £15 million to the economy, at the estate for years to come.
The Glasgow-based firm insists it does not have a back-up plan in the event of its plans being turned down at a crunch meeting next month, and have warned it may never be held again if it is axed this year.
However the Strathallan T Action Group (STAG) insist DF Concerts has rushed into using a badly-flawed site, saying their planning application “bears the hallmarks of a rushed job.”
T in the Park, which celebrated its 20th birthday last year, was forced to relocate from its previous home due to long-standing concerns from the Health and Safety Executive over a huge oil pipeline underneath the airfield used for the festival.
A spokeswoman for DF Concerts said: “We remain confident the decision will be positive because we know we’ve gone above and beyond with meticulous detail to ensure our plan is sound.
“We look forward to welcoming the best festival audience in the world to one of the most beautiful locations in the world, and the long-term benefits of T in the Park continuing for many years to come.
“Since the return of the ospreys two weeks ago, we’ve been monitoring them onsite and now they’ve chosen their final nest we’ve developed our response in consultation with expert independent ornithologists and the relevant organisations.
“This will ensure appropriate measures are in place to secure the long-term protection of the birds as well as the future of the event at Strathallan.”
The RSPB said Perth and Kinross Council should not give the event planning permission unless the “critically important safeguards” it had asked for were agreed with the promoters.
RSPB Scotland director Stuart Housden said: “It is vital that impacts on wildlife are considered at the earliest possible stage when an event or new development is being planned.
“This reduces the risk to developers of their plans being stopped or delayed, as well as protecting Scotland’s wildlife. It is unfortunate that issues are still not fully resolved at T in the Park at this very late stage.
“We have set out strict criteria which must be adhered to in order to minimise risk of disturbance to nesting ospreys. While we acknowledge that DF Concerts has gone some way towards reducing potential disturbance and increasing the chances of success for the birds, the level of risk requires strict conditions and the powers to enforce them.”
A spokeswoman for STAG said: “DF Concerts have built T in the Park into a significant social, economic and cultural event, but it is not an event which must happen at all costs. Strathallan is home to some of Scotland’s most iconic species.
“Given its significance, they should’ve done more, in terms of due diligence and contingency planning, to secure its continued existence. If the application is rejected, they will have no-one to blame but themselves.”
A spokesman for the Woodland Trust Scotland said: “The thousands of supporters who signed our petition and submitted objections through the consultation process care about the ecologically valuable woodland that surrounds the estate and share our concerns for the impact of the event on iconic Scottish wildlife including red squirrels and ospreys.
“The trust is not against T in the Park, however due to impacts such as light and noise we feel that Strathallan Estate is an inappropriate venue for such a large festival.
“It’s now up to Perth & Kinross Council to determine whether it will go ahead or not, our hope is that the environmental importance of the estate will be given the consideration that it deserves.”