T in the Park organisers hit out as they confirm 2017 event is off

T in the Park had two troubled years at the Strathallan Estate in Perthshire.
T in the Park had two troubled years at the Strathallan Estate in Perthshire.
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Organisers of Scotland’s biggest music festival have blamed its forced relocation over an underground pipeline and a prolonged battle over an osprey’s nest for its cancellation next year,

DF Concerts, the promoters behind T in the Park since its launch in 1994, have confirmed it is “taking a break” days after it emerged it was planning a new three-day event in Glasgow in 2017.

An official announcement said the organisers would be taking a “year out” to take stock over the future of T in the Park - although it made no mentioned of the event said to have been lined up for Glasgow Green next July.

However the promoters also hit out at the “onerous” restrictions that had been put on T in the Park in recent years, which it said had meant the festival had become unworkable.

A joint statement by DF and event sponsors Tennent’s Lager complained that a “prolonged fight” had been put up to avoid having to move the event from Balado, in Kinross, due to concerns from the Health and Safety Executive.

It then faced a prolonged battle to secure planning permission for its new site on the Strathallan Estate, in Perthshire, due to concerns over the impact on the environment and wildlife.

The statement read: “We launched T in the Park with one aim: to give Scottish music fans an unforgettable weekend with their friends enjoying the best acts from around the globe. And to say we achieved this together is an understatement. T in the Park has become one of the best known, biggest and most loved festivals in the world.

“However, the last couple of years have had their challenges. Against our will, and despite a prolonged fight, we were forced to move from Balado. This move was a mammoth task for the event and one that was compounded by a series of onerous site restrictions placed upon us.

“As the build up-to the festival was well underway we were informed by Scottish Government ministers that we would have to apply for full planning permission due to the presence of an unregistered, but protected in law, osprey’s nest.

“The constraints – logistically and financially - that the resulting planning conditions put upon us are simply not workable.

We tried our best to work with the pressures placed upon the site by bringing in an additional team and fixing the first year traffic issues, but ultimately we’re not in control of the overall site layout.

"Continued restrictions mean the negative impact on our fans and the limitations placed on their experience is too great.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “T in the Park has been an important festival in Scotland’s annual portfolio of events for over two decades and we are disappointed that the event organisers have taken the decision not to stage it next year.

"The Scottish Government has worked with the event’s organisers in relation to the relocation of the event to Strathallan, including providing grant funding for related transitional costs.

“We hope the organisers can address some of the challenges they have encountered recently to allow the festival to return in the near future.”

A spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Council, which has hosted the festival since it relocated from Hamilton, in Lanarkshire, in 1997, said: "T in the Park was one of the first major events to recognise the potential the area has as a venue for big events.

"While it is disappointing that there won’t be ‘T’ in 2017, we look forward to carrying on our positive relationship with the festival organisers as they plan for the future.

“In the meantime we will focus our attention on working with the organisers of other events who are keen to grow the audiences they bring to the area, and to build upon our own successful seasonal events programme.”

The RSPB, Scotland’s largest nature conservation charity, which had been critical of DF Concerts' "minimalist and rather last minute approach" to protecting birds and other wildlife, insisted it had "worked hard" to ensure the event went ahead for the last two years.

Head of planning Aedán Smith said: "The fact that the osprey nest that had been on the site for a number of years was able to continue to be successful, and fledge chicks, illustrates how nature and development can often successfully coexist where there is a willingness on all sides to carry out activities responsibly.

"However, it has become clear that there are a wide range of other challenges to running the huge event that T in the Park has become at the Strathallan site.

"We hope these can be resolved and look forward to working with DF concerts and T in the Park in future wherever opportunities arise."

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith, one of the strongest critics of the organisation of T in the Park at Strathallan, said: “Many T in the Park fans both locally and nationally will be sorry to hear this news.

“I have no doubt that a huge amount of thought has gone into this decision but it is clear that 2015 and 2016 presented some significant issues which, on top of those surrounding the future of festival structures generally, has created the need for a rethink.

“I would call on DF Concerts and other stakeholders to think carefully about what might work in the future.”