Tayside and Central Scotland

T in the Park: Strathallan Estate part-owners defend plans

Strathallan Castle Image copyright William Starkey
Image caption Jamie and Debs Roberts said they would continue to protect the "wonderful environment" at Strathallan

A pair of part-owners of the Strathallan Estate have spoken out about plans to host the T in the Park festival there.

Jamie and Debs Roberts underlined their commitment as "long term conservationists" to protecting local ecosystems.

It comes after nature groups including RSPB Scotland and the Woodland Trust Scotland criticised the proposed move.

Perth and Kinross Council is to hold a second consultation on the plans.

Mr and Mrs Roberts issued a statement defending the plans for the music festival, which aims to make its home at the estate each summer after 17 years at Balado.

Public opinion on the move has been divided, and nature groups have raised concerns about the potential impact on the environment and protected animals.

'Significant decision'

Mr and Mrs Roberts said: "People may assume there is an agenda to our response. What they may not appreciate is the depths we have gone to to reassure ourselves that this is a good thing for Strathallan, Strathearn and the wider community.

"Our family has owned Strathallan Estate for more than a century and it is with a deep sense of heritage and responsibility that we steward the land and the buildings we are fortunate to be responsible for.

"We have lived and run our business in the area for decades and take no decision lightly, least of all such a significant one for the future as this.

"Strathallan has a wonderful environment that we have done much to protect and enhance. It is not our intention to change this - after all the environs of the estate are the main attraction for DF Concerts to hold T in the Park here."

Image caption The application to host the annual festival at Strathallan has attracted hundreds of comments

The Roberts' said the estate and the wider area would benefit from an "annual injection of financial, social and cultural opportunities" thanks to the festival.

They said: "Managing an estate such as Strathallan requires a global view, and in this modern day cannot be supported by traditional means alone.

"Claims have been made the the estate could 'do something else' but unfortunately no feasible suggestions have been forthcoming and certainly none that provide the social, cultural and economic benefits that will be brought to the wider community by T in the Park.

"Strathearn has opened its arms to the world with events such as the Ryder Cup and G8 summit. It is vital that T in the Park is given the platform to continue to complement these events and further raise the profile of Perth and Kinross as a world renowned venue.

"The people of Strathearn should be proud of this opportunity and embrace it. It isn't something to be ashamed of. It is modern, forward thinking and a true recognition of the vibrancy of what rural Scotland should be."

Image caption Nature groups had voiced concerns about the impact hosting the festival could have on Strathallan

Mr and Mrs Roberts spoke out after criticism of the event plans by the Woodland Trust Scotland and RSPB Scotland.

Although neither body has submitted a formal objection to Perth and Kinross Council, the Trust claimed there could be an "appalling" impact on wildlife in what it called "irreplaceable ancient woodland".

Meanwhile, RSPB Scotland said time was running out to relocate a local osprey nest before the birds migrated back to the site.

Mr and Mrs Roberts accused the groups of making "outlandish and incorrect claims".

They said the woods at Strathallan are not classified as "ancient", and said neither group had engaged directly with them - despite an invitation to RSPB Scotland made two months ago.

They said: "If the facts had been sought, RSPB Scotland and the Woodland Trust would know that the people responsible for managing the Strathallan ecosystem do not want ospreys to leave Strathallan, in fact we pro-actively encourage the birds to feed and breed here."

'Poor organisation'

Charles Dundas from the Woodland Trust said he would be happy to meet with DF Concerts or the estate's owners to discuss the group's concerns in detail.

He added: "These woods are of high nature conservation value and they are home to a number of protected species including red squirrels, otters, ospreys and bats. After we were alerted to plans to hold T in the Park in the midst of such an important and sensitive habitat, we felt the need to speak out and raise awareness of our concerns."

A spokeswoman for RSPB Scotland said the Roberts family were "clearly trying to paper over the cracks that reveal DF Concerts' poor and last-minute organisation", with their consideration for wildlife at Strathallan being "something of an afterthought".

She added: "This is not an example of best practice, and we expect much better from the organiser of an event of this size and impact."

A second public consultation is to be held on the festival plans after Perth and Kinross Council requested extra information from organisers DF Concerts.

The first 28-day period attracted 523 comments, 274 opposing the move, 240 in favour of it and nine neutral.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites