Belfast Telegraph

Concerns over T in the Park move

Two environmental groups have raised concerns over the planned move of T in the Park to Strathallan Castle.

RSPB Scotland and the Woodlands Trust did not make formal objections during the original consultation but say issues need to be resolved around wildlife nests in the area as birds return to the site.

DF Concerts, which runs Scotland's biggest music festival, announced the move to Strathallan last summer as safety concerns grew over the proximity of the Balado site to a large oil pipeline.

It was initially thought that the event could operate in the grounds of the 19th-century castle with a permitted development and a public entertainment licence, but the discovery of osprey at Strathallan meant a formal planning application and an environmental statement was required with Perth and Kinross Council.

A 28-day consultation period closed last month but a second is to be held with a decision expected in April.

The RSPB said it is concerned that work has not been completed to move an osprey nest before the birds return to the site in the next few weeks.

Festival organisers said it has been in contact with the charity throughout the planning process and that its environmental statement can answer many of the questions raised.

A spokesman for the RSPB said: " In our response to the planning application we made it clear that a number of additional measures were required to reduce the impact of this major event on wildlife, particularly the resident breeding ospreys.

"We also need to see other measures in place for other species. For example, as far as we are aware, no habitat creation has been undertaken for other important species such as kingfisher and other ground-nesting birds.

"If the promoters, DF Concerts, are serious about their application, this positive action should have been taking place already to offset any potential impacts on wildlife and habitats."

The Woodland Trust said its response to the planning application for the festival has been excluded by Perth & Kinross Council due to a "misleading closing date for responses".

Charles Dundas, from the conservation group, said: "T in the Park is a very popular event and we are not against it taking place.

"However, it's important to consider the danger posed to the environment by relocating it as proposed.

"Ancient woodland is irreplaceable habitat which needs to be valued and protected.

"Holding T in the Park at Strathallan Castle will have a huge annual effect on the wildlife that the woodland surrounding the site supports.

"Disturbance on this scale from noise and artificial light within ancient woodland will have an appalling and cumulative impact on wildlife every year.

"We believe that Strathallan Castle is an unsuitable location and urge Perth and Kinross Council to reject the application and for DF Concerts to look for an alternative location for T in the Park."

A T in the Park spokeswoman said: "The Woodland Trust has made no formal representation to Perth & Kinross Council about T in the Park's relocation despite there being ample opportunity to do so.

"Therefore, we're assuming that they have not read our environmental statement which would answer many of their questions.

"As always, litter control will remain a major part of our planning activity for the festival and, as is standard, we'll ensure that a great deal of time and finance is dedicated to ensuring that any debris is removed from the site quickly.

"We're also confident that we can robustly address all of the ecological and habitat questions raised by any of the statutory consultees.

"We have been in constant engagement with the RSPB throughout this process and the feedback has been that they are comfortable with our strategy.

"Our mitigation plan is being carried out by a recognised ornithologist who is an expert on this protected species. The timing of works has been based on his advice."

A host of pop stars, DJs and music managers contributed to the original consultation and backed plans for the festival.

Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr described it as a ''truly colossal part of Scotland's cultural identity''.

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