RSPB Scotland warns time is running out for T in the Park as ospreys start returning to UK

RSPB Scotland has today warned time is running out to reduce the impact of T in the Park on wildlife at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire.

The wildlife conservation charity criticised the organisers, DF Concerts Limited, as appearing poorly organised and unprofessional and cautioned that, unless a clear plan to deal with ospreys and other wildlife emerges in the next few days, it will be too late for them to ensure the proposal can go ahead as planned without unnecessary impacts on wildlife at the site.

There are a range of sensitive species present on the site, including a pair of ospreys. DF Concerts, the T in the Park promoters, are planning to remove the existing nest and construct a new nest a few hundred metres away before the ospreys return for this breeding season.

Moving an osprey nest like this is unusual in Scotland but has been done successfully on a number of occasions, such as when ospreys nest near power lines and need to be moved for safety reasons.

Based on our knowledge of osprey behaviour and the proposed site layout, RSPB Scotland believes the new location will reduce the risk of disturbance to the ospreys and mean that T in the Park should be able go ahead without harming the birds.  However, the work must be done in the next few days when the birds are away from the nest site, on their winter migration.

Of real concern is that work has not been done and the Ospreys have already started returning to southern parts of the UK.  It is highly likely that the Strathallan ospreys will be back sometime within the next two weeks.

This nest relocation plan needs to be carried out imminently as it will no longer be possible to move the nest once the birds have returned without causing them real distress.  Disturbing the ospreys once they have returned and started to nest could result in a serious offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

RSPB Scotland is monitoring the situation and would send any information regarding active nest disturbances to Police Scotland for urgent investigation. In addition, the promoters must undertake other habitat creation work for other species such as kingfisher and ground nesting species to mitigate wider impacts.

A spokesperson for RSPB Scotland said: “The details of how T in the Park will avoid harming wildlife should have been sorted out many months ago.  If it was well planned, there is no reason why T in the Park shouldn’t be able to happen at this site and result in no overall harm to wildlife – but we have yet to be given anything like the reassurances we need.  Frustratingly, even though many of the music fans who go to T in the Park will also be fans of wildlife, it seems thatgiving Scotland’s nature a home is at the bottom of the promoter’s priority list.

“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, D F Concerts, are serious about their application, this positive action should have been taking place already to offset any potential impacts on wildlife and habitats.

“We are sure those planning to attend T in the Park this year would not want the festival to harm Scotland’s wildlife.  In fact, they will no doubt expect that the concert should be a model of best practice in this regard. The onus is now firmly on DF Concerts to implement all the necessary mitigation measures, otherwise T in the Park may not be able to go ahead without major changes.”

Ospreys are afforded the highest degree of legal protection under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and 33 pairs bred in Perthshire last year. The site is also used by breeding kingfishers, red kites and barn owls, and our advice in response to the planning application contained information on how to reduce impacts on all of these species.

If anyone thinks a disturbance offence has occurred on the proposed site of the relocated T in the Park, they should contact Police Scotland.

1 comment to RSPB Scotland warns time is running out for T in the Park as ospreys start returning to UK

  • R Third

    Have over-all ecology and species specific long term impact assessments been carried out using up to date data?
    Have impact assessments accurately taken into account the initial event and the repetition of the future annual event taking place pre and during the breeding season? (The information I have seen so far submitted by DF Concerts is inadequate and clearly does not prioritise the natural assets of the site so far as conservation is concerned.)
    What are the effects of loud music, light pollution, public activity on sensitive reclusive species from such an even on this site, bearing in mind that these birds and animals inhabit and breed on this site specifically because it provides the conditions they require? Please remember that it is not a question over whether or not to hold the event but whether or not this site is unsuitable for the event due to the detrimental impact on the habitat and species which live there.

    I understand that the Kingfisher old nesting holes have been obstructed already and that the fields used for ground nesting birds are being intensively grazed which is an obvious obstruction to them nesting. Is this the way DF Concerts and the owners of the site get round the law by preventing birds from nesting in the first place? Please investigate this and also request an investigation by Police Scotland.
    Is a change in the law required to protect nest sites for specific species pre nesting and breeding?

    Putting to one side for a moment any relocation of the Osprey’s nest, from the ‘birds eye’ point of view can the RSPB be confident that a view of the campsite and activities will not affect hunting and breeding success ?

    Please object very strongly against this site being used for T in the Park or any similar event. Please do your job RSPB.

    Thank you.

    Yours sincerely

    R. Third ( previously an RSPB family member for many years but now rethinking whether or not I will ever return to being a member )

    Editor’s Comment. It may already be too late for the concert to legally go ahead. Once an Osprey has set a foot on the old nest breeding will have already begun. After this point any disturbance will be illegal and those responsible could face prosecution. The only way around this position will be for SNH to issue a licence to completely remove the nest, which seems very unlikely as it will be so unpopular and will result in huge negative publicity for this event and SNH.