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Has the osprey landed? T site squabble continues

By | Published on Tuesday 7 April 2015

T In The Park

The future of more festivals should depend on where an osprey chooses to nest, it would make the whole sector a lot more exciting.

Campaigners opposed to T In The Park taking place at the Strathallan Estate in Perthshire reckon that they have won the debate over whether or not the music festival can indeed move to the site because of where an osprey landed this weekend.

As previously reported, T promoter DF announced last year that the event was leaving its long-term home at Balado, Kinross, subsequently confirming Strathallan Castle as the new site for the festival. But some locals, and conservation groups like The Woodland Trust and the RSPB, have raised concerns about the environmental impact of hosting T on the Strathallan Estate. The local authority is still considering arguments on both sides, so is yet to issue a licence for the festival, which is due to take place from 10-12 Jul.

A key concern for the RSPB is the ospreys that traditionally nest near the Estate. Ospreys enjoy a high level of a protection under the Wildlife And Countryside Act, and as a result it is a criminal offence to disturb them during the breeding season. Although the ospreys’ long-term roosting spot is not on the Strathallan Estate itself, a 2500 foot ‘buffer zone’ would be required around the nest if T went ahead there, and that would significantly cut into the planned festival site.

DF has reportedly hired experts to try to persuade the ospreys to nest in a more convenient location for their plans, which, according to STV, involves constructing an alternative nesting space and then using kites, balloons and an extended cherry-picker near the old nest to try to divert the birds. Such activity is legal, though the RSPB has dubbed these attempts “unethical and unacceptable”.

Either way, according to local media it seems that the osprey have now returned to the Estate and, despite the great new alternative nest set up by DF, not to mention the prospect of being able to party with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds come July, the pesky birds of prey have allegedly set up home in their usual spot.

James Reynolds of RSPB Scotland told reporters: “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”.

He went on: “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. 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”.

But a spokesperson for DF said that the RSPB’s video “does not correspond with the ongoing monitoring from our ornithologist on site”, meaning that the promoter is not yet convinced the ospreys have indeed set up home in their original nest.

The spokesperson added: “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”.

So there you go, it remains unclear, have the osprey landed or not? And if they have, does that mean T will have to find another Park to take place in? CMU Springwatch will continue to monitor the situation.