Tayside and Central Scotland

Councillors approve Strathallan T in the Park plan

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

Perth and Kinross council has approved plans for the T in the Park festival to be held at Strathallan Castle.

After a 90-minute meeting of the development management committee, councillors unanimously backed the application submitted by DF Concerts, subject to a number of conditions.

The meeting heard arguments from supporters and opponents of the plans.

The festival has been approved for the next three years, so its impact locally can be fully assessed.

Councillors discussed a report from development quality manager Nick Brian, who had recommended they give a short-term green light to the event.

'Rigorous process'

During that period the impact of the festival on the area will be assessed in detail, informing a decision on its longer-term future at a later date.

After a motion to approve the plans was tabled, no councillors came forward with an amendment or request to reject the plans, so no vote was taken.

The decision was met by a round of applause from supporters, while objectors said they were "disappointed".

The move has been divisive in the local area, with more than 1,600 letters of objection sent to the authority citing concerns which ranged from local wildlife - in particular protected ospreys which nest at the site - to traffic management.

Representations were made at the meeting by DF Concerts boss Geoff Ellis, supporters of the move including estate part-owner Jamie Roberts, and objectors from the Strathallan T Action Group of residents.

Image caption No councillors challenged the motion to approve the planning application

Mr Ellis said he was "happy" with the decision, and looking forward to a "fantastic" first year at Strathallan.

He said: "Massive thanks go to the local communities surrounding Strathallan, who spent a huge amount of their own precious time to show the country that they warmly welcome T in the Park.

"We will deliver a festival to make them proud and look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship, just like the one we had in Kinross and Milnathort for the last 18 years.

"We do also understand that not everyone wanted the event at Strathallan but we would hope that these people now accept the decision following what has undoubtedly been the most rigorous and intensive process for staging an event in Scotland's history."

'Excellent neighbours'

He added: "It is our intention to work closely with all residents to ensure that we are excellent neighbours and minimise any disruption to local life.

"We also hope they will appreciate that it is our intention to continue to work with the relevant authorities and organisations to ensure the long-term protection and safeguarding of the local environment surrounding Strathallan."

This year's event will take place on the weekend of 10 to 12 July, with bands including Kasabian, The Libertines and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds among the headline acts.

Image copyright Zazie Mackintosh
Image caption Ospreys have been nesting in trees near the festival site

One of the key arguments over the plans was sparked by ospreys returning to a nest near the festival site, with the birds requiring special protection.

RSPB Scotland, which 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."

'Lack of transparency'

Meanwhile, Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Liz Smith claimed the planning process had been "very badly handled" by the council and event organisers.

She said: "This is a decision which has clearly divided local opinion over many months.

"Whether members of the local community are supportive of the move or not, the vast majority have been critical of the lack of transparency within the decision-making process, particularly in the initial stages.

"It is now crucial that local people are put first as the preparations for T in the Park at Strathallan Castle take shape and that all steps are taken in order to minimise the disturbance and impact on residents and the local community."

Lennie Fuller, a resident who spoke at the meeting in opposition to the plans, said the onus was now on the council and DF Concerts to deliver the event along the agreed guidelines.

"As far as I'm concerned we have a democratic process, which we've experienced today.

"We now have to rely on the council to make sure that all the provisions they're going to apply to the planning application will be adhered to, and we have to hope that DF Concerts will deliver what they say they're going to deliver in July."

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