Tayside and Central Scotland

Final day of consultation on T in the Park move plan

T in the Park
Image caption More than 80,000 people attend the T in the Park festival every summer

Consultations over plans to relocate the T in the Park festival to Strathallan Castle have entered their final day.

Perth and Kinross Council's second public consultation will end at 23:59.

The plans have divided opinion locally and have come under fire from wildlife campaigners, although event organisers insist measures to protect the environment are in place.

The council is due to make a decision on the planning application in May.

Organiser DF Concerts decided to move the festival after 17 years at Balado due to fears over an oil pipeline running under that site.

They settled on the estate of Strathallan Castle as the best home for the annual event, but Scottish ministers ruled that the proposal must go through a rigorous planning application including an environmental impact assessment.

Image copyright William Starkey
Image caption DF Concerts wants to hold the music festival at the Strathallan estate on an annual basis

An initial public consultation drew more than 520 responses, including 240 in support and 274 in opposition to the plans.

After DF Concerts submitted additional information at the request of the council, a second 28-day consultation period was initiated, with hundreds of additional comments lodged.

A spokeswoman for T in the Park acknowledged that there would likely be more negative comments than positive ones. However, she insisted this was mainly due to the Woodland Trust Scotland "campaigning heavily" with what she described as "misleading information".

The Trust claims "irreplaceable" woodland could be lost if the festival goes ahead and say organisers have not done enough to satisfy them that nature would be protected.

A spokesman 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."

Image caption DF Concerts has submitted plans to host T in the Park at Strathallan Castle from this summer

The situation was complicated by the return of ospreys to a nest near the festival site. The birds are a protected species and cannot be disturbed while nesting, leading to calls for a sizeable "exclusion zone" which could infringe on the area available for use by the festival.

The T in the Park spokeswoman said protection plans had been developed "in consultation with expert independent ornithologists and the relevant organisations.

She added: "This will ensure there are appropriate measures in place to secure the long-term protection of the birds as well as the future of the event at Strathallan.

"We've provided a huge amount of extra evidence to demonstrate that our thorough species protection plans will safeguard any wildlife on-site - now and in the future - as well as the wider environment."

Image copyright Zazie Mackintosh
Image caption It is an offence to disturb nesting ospreys such as the ones which have settled near the estate

In its response to the consultation, RSPB Scotland laid out conditions it said must be followed if the festival is to go ahead. The charity wants an exclusion zone of 500 metres established around the osprey nest until mid-June, when chicks could be hatched, and a buffer of 250 metres thereafter.

They also called for a restriction on the use of fireworks and lighting, and said a qualified bird expert should be appointed to an on-site position, who could step in and prevent any potential disturbance.

'Strict conditions'

RSPB Scotland director Stuart Housden said: "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.

"We are objecting to the planning application for the festival unless these are implemented, and RSPB Scotland will monitor the situation closely to make sure they are complied with."

Locals have also voiced concerns about traffic around the quiet Perthshire locale, with more than 80,000 music fans expected to make the journey in July - although Yorkshire-based traffic management firm SEP Ltd said they were "confident" in their calculations and "extremely experienced in managing traffic plans in rural areas".

Image caption Traffic management plans for the event were defended by the firm which helped design them

The event has also received some high-profile backing, with MSPs voicing support for the festival in a Holyrood debate this week.

Education and culture committee convener Stewart Maxwell noted that the event contributes £15.4m to the Scottish economy each year, while fellow SNP MSP Joan McApline described it was "a national treasure".

Tickets have already been sold for the festival, which is scheduled to run from 10 to 12 July.

Acts booked include Kasabian, The Libertines, Avicii, Noel Gallacher's High Flying Birds, The Prodigy and David Guetta.

'Meticulous detail'

The statutory timescale for deciding a major planning application is four months, which means the Scottish government expects Perth and Kinross Council to come to a decision within four months of the application being validated on 20 January.

The next scheduled meeting of the Development Management committee is on 12 May.

The high volume of traffic to the planning application caused technical issues with the local authority website. Perth and Kinross Council said anyone who wanted to comment on the plans while the site was unavailable should email their response to developmentmanagement@pkc.gov.uk.

A festival spokeswoman said: "We remain confident that the decision will be positive because we know that we've gone above and beyond with meticulous detail to ensure that 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 plus we look forward to the long-term cultural, economic and social benefits of T in the Park continuing to impact Scotland for many years to come."

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