RSPB sets ‘strict’ conditions for T in the Park at Strathallan

The RSPB has said it will object to the staging of T in the Park at Strathallan Estate unless strict conditions are imposed to protect nesting ospreys. It has said that unless 14 conditions are adhered to it is “highly likely” that a crime will be committed under the wildlife and countryside act.

The conditions state that the Slam Tent, home to the festival’s main electronic dance music acts, and the ferris wheel must be at least 1640 ft (500m) away from the nest and that all festival staff and work sites must not come within 1640 ft of the nest until mid-June, when the buffer zone is reduced to 820 ft (250m).

The conservation charity condemned festival organisers DF Concerts for not sending them an updated osprey mitigation plan until the day before the consultation period closed, saying it was “unfortunate that issues are still not fully resolved at this very late stage”.

The late submission meant RSPB chiefs had just 48 hours to submit a formal response and recommendations.

Shortly after the response was published, Perth and Kinross Council were forced to extend the consultation deadline of T in the Park’s planning application for a licence to stage the festival in July after an “extremely high volume of internet traffic” crashed its website.

The deadline is now midday on Saturday.

RSPB conservation officer Claire Smith raised concerns about the osprey nest on DF Concert’s map of the site, saying she believed it was in the wrong place, and any conditions imposed must refer to the correct location.

RSPB Scotland Director, Stuart Housden, said: “It is vital that impacts on wildlife are considered at the earliest possible stage when an event or new development is being planned.

“This reduces the risk to developers of their plans being stopped or delayed, as well as protecting Scotland’s wildlife. It is unfortunate that issues are still not fully resolved at T in the Park at this very late stage.

“Today we have set out strict criteria which must be adhered to in order to minimise risk of disturbance to nesting ospreys.

“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.”

  (Strathallan T Action Group)

The three-day festival attracts up to 85,000 revellers each day and tickets have been on sale for months. Councillors are expected to decide on the fate of this year’s festival in late May.

The plans have divided the local community with some residents forming a campaign group, Strathallan T Action Group (STAG), to oppose the plans.

They condemned T in the Park bosses for trying to scare away the ospreys from their original nest using a cherry picker, balloons and flags – a move which DF Concerts chief executive Geoff Ellis later described as “not our finest moment”. A STAG spokeswoman said: “Strathallan Castle Estate is the wrong site for T in the Park for many reasons, most obviously its poor infrastructure and its rich biodiversity. “We note RSPB has suggested a 820 ft buffer will be sufficient by the time of festival. We struggle to see how this can be case, given no amount of construction work can truly prepare the birds for the presence of 85,000 people and noise levels reaching nearly 140dB.

“DF Concerts allowed insufficient time to consider the new site, and their application bears the hallmarks of a rushed job. DF Concerts has built T in the Park into a significant social, economic and cultural event, but it is not an event which must happen at all costs.”

However, other residents have started a campaign to encourage planning officers to give the festival the green light, with around 1500 signing a petition supporting the move, and dozens erecting signs and banners around Auchterarder to show support.

VisitScotland chief Mike Cantlay has also said the relocation of the music festival to the grounds of Strathallan Castle is vital to Scotland’s tourism trade.

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

The company insists that ample protection will be put in place to ensure the ospreys and other wildlife at the site are not disturbed.

A festival spokeswoman said: “We’ve provided a huge amount of extra evidence to demonstrate that our thorough species protection plans will safeguard any wildlife onsite, now and in the future, as well as the wider environment.

“Since the return of the ospreys two weeks ago, we’ve been monitoring them onsite and now that they have chosen their final nest we’ve developed our response in consultation with expert independent ornithologists and the relevant organisations.

“Throughout the consultation process, we have maintained almost daily contact with the RSPB and we look forward to continuing work with them going forward.

“At the end of the consultation, we expect there will be more objections than positive comments because the Woodlands Trust has campaigned heavily for weeks to ask their UK members to object to the event from a direct link on their website.

“For us, it’s more significant that we’ve seen massive growing support for the festival in the local community and the positive voice of the majority has become louder and louder.”

“The application is now in the hands of the planners at Perth and Kinross Council and the final decision will be made in May.

“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.”

This article written by Catriona MacPhee appeared in the Stv News

2 comments to RSPB sets ‘strict’ conditions for T in the Park at Strathallan

  • Deadline for objections is in fact midnight tonight – and not midday. Still time to lodged comments with, with Ref: 15/00081/FLM

  • Jan

    BBC Scotland News website Tayside and Central) are reporting that Perth and Kinross council has today approved unanimously plans for the T in the Park festival to be held at Strathallan Castle subject to a number of conditions. The festival has been approved for the next three years, so its impact locally can be fully assessed.
    RSPB Scotland are reported to have “worked with DF Concerts on plans to mitigate disturbance to the birds, welcomed that the strict conditions it had called for were included in the approval. A spokesman for the charity said: “The very strict conditions required by RSPB Scotland have been included for the event which is welcome, but the focus must now be on making sure that these will be fully adhered to, to minimise the risk of any disturbance to birds and other wildlife at the site.”DF Concerts must implement their plans for reducing disturbance immediately, and ensure there will be strict monitoring of Strathallan, on the weekend of T in the Park but also during preparations for the event and the clean-up afterwards.” “