Police called back to T in the Park site and asked to intervene as osprey returns taking up residence on nest

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The ‘T’ in the park pair of Ospreys are now confirmed as breeding, further planned disturbance would be a criminal offence.

A pair of ospreys which hold a key role in deciding whether this year’s T in the Park goes ahead at Strathallan Estate defying festival organisers by returning to their old nest overlooked by the huge cherry picker festooned with flags and balloons. The ospreys were allegedly seen on their long-term roost near the Perthshire estate on Monday, despite attempts by organisers DF Concerts to move them on to a new custom-built nest nearby.

osprey

An osprey photographed taking a stick to build the nest.

It is understood that the ospreys return to their former home means a buffer zone of 2500ft will likely be required to safeguard them during the three-day festival, encroaching significantly on the proposed festival site. A spokesman for RSPB Scotland said the wildlife organisation was “fully satisfied” the birds had returned to the old nest.

An action group made up of local residents opposed to the new festival site, Strathallan T Action Group (STAG), claimed the arrival of the ospreys now “rules out” the festival being held there.

However, festival organisers have disputed video footage which allegedly shows the birds in the nest and have asked for the film to be authenticated.

A spokeswoman for DF Concerts said although the ospreys had been seen in the vicinity of the nest, the company believes they have not landed on the old nest.

Police were called to the site of the nest near Gleneagles for a second time on Monday over fears an active nest was being disturbed.

The RSPB called police because a cherry picker vehicle being used by DF Concerts to try and intentionally disturb the birds in the hope the breeding pair of osprey would then relocate  to the new nest. The company was also accused of driving a tractor up and down the road honking its horn.

The cherry picker was removed late on Monday night 6 April.

Ospreys are provided the highest possible protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and it is a criminal offence to disturb them during the nesting and breeding season. If it can be established by the video that was captured that the pair of osprey were on the old nest, then this would establish the birds had chosen the site to breed this season.

Tactics used to encourage the ospreys to move away from Strathallan included balloons, flags and a fully extended cherry picker near the nest – moves which RSPB Scotland previously condemned as “unethical and unacceptable”, although not illegal.

James Reynolds of RSPB Scotland said: “We are aware that the ospreys have been reported at the nest site and indeed we have some video footage that shows one of them alighting on the nest with a stick. A raptor worker who wishes to remain anonymous has stated if the ospreys have been observed taking nesting material (sticks) to the nest it would be illegal to disturb them, to do so would be a criminal offence. “This blatantly means this is now an active nest and is protected from disturbance so the cherry picker should have been removed immediately.

“I was informed that that did not take place and contacted Police Scotland to make them aware of that. The cherry picker was then removed on 6th April.

“As this nest is closer to the main festival activity, the risk that the birds will be disturbed by the festival has increased and that will be reflected in our response to the planning application.”

The owners of Strathallan Castle Estate spoke out last week to urge opponents to support plans to host the festival there.

Jamie and Debs Roberts said they feared Auchterarder could be dubbed “the town that said no to T in the Park”.

DF Concerts currently do not have planning permission to stage the huge event, which attracts 85,000 revellers each day, in July.

A 28-day consultation period is underway and a decision on the planning application by Perth and Kinross Council is expected in May.

A T in the Park spokeswoman denied any wrongdoing.

She said: “We’ve seen a copy of the video referred to by RSPB and it does not correspond with the ongoing monitoring from our ornithologist on site.

“We are fully aware of and compliant with the legal protocol and as such, we have asked the police and RSPB to seek further information so that the video’s authenticity can be fully examined.

“We have removed the cherry picker while we wait for this information.”

The STAG action group has previously raised concerns about traffic management and wildlife protection at the new festival site.

A spokeswoman for STAG said: “The nest now requires a protective buffer zone, which, as DF Concerts conceded long ago, rules out the festival being held at the estate.

“We hope there is still time for T in the Park to go ahead at another, more suitable site.”

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