Campaigns, Conservation

Not my cup of T: Music festival threatens ancient woodland and rare wildlife

I love music. I love music festivals. But there is a time and a place.

That time is not setting up when rare ospreys are nesting and that place is not next to delicate ancient woodland filled with otters, red squirrels, kingfishers and bats. And yet that is exactly what T in the Park are doing.

Ospreys are a protected species. There are only 200 breeding pairs in the UK.

Or planning on doing. They haven’t actually got planning permission yet, but they are already selling tickets and have posters featuring Strathallan Castle. Strathallan Castle is the location, a place known for its heritage and stunning natural beauty. It gets this beauty from being such a wonderful site for nature. The music festival threatens to harm this forever.

It seems completely obvious to me that 85,000 people, all their litter, the very loud noise of the music and speakers, and the unnatural light is going to have a massive impact on local wildlife and disrupt their natural behaviour. The proposers of this deny any impacts and spout about mitigation. Many people on the internet too are raging about how it’s nonsense that a music festival can have an impact. I simply cannot comprehend this view.

Think about it, if you are trying to live everyday life next to a loud 4 day long house party it’s likely it would disrupt your routine. You would not be able to sleep or concentrate. I’m sure you wouldn’t be too happy about all the rubbish infiltrating your garden either. And we understand what this noise is and that it will end. Wildlife have no such knowledge. Also, those of you with pets will know the terror that some go through when there are fireworks. These are domestic animals who are used to human activity and noise. So how will wild animals that have no experience of this react? I expect they will flee for their lives, or at the very least change their natural behaviour.

Almost all woods with bluebells in the UK are ancient woodland.

The ancient woodland will also likely suffer. Ancient woodland is defined as areas that have been continuously wooded since the 1600s. This does not mean they are full of ancient trees (trees within woods rarely live as long as those trees in open spaces). They sit upon preserved soils that have never been contaminated or disrupted by modern human activity. As a result they harbour unique biodiversity that cannot exist anywhere else. These ecosystems and networks have developed over centuries. Once these have been disturbed they are gone … forever. Even centuries from now ancient woodland cannot ever recover to its previous 1600 natural state. As a result, the Woodland Trust are concerned about the proposal and are fighting this threat every step of the way. The RSPB have also shown increasing concern.

On top of this arrogance and disrespect, there are other key issues:

  • A cherry picker consisting of a noisy crane, the Scottish flag, and CDs was put next to the resident osprey’s nest before they returned. This nest sits within the location that T in the Park want to hold their festival. If the ospreys nest there, as a protected species they could prove to a be serious obstacle to permission being granted.
  • So instead of taking their chances, they planned to ‘gently encourage’ them to use the new nest provided for them. Ospreys use the same nest for years and perfect it bit by bit (who doesn’t love a bit of interior design?). They are unlikely to choose a new man-made nest. I see nothing ‘gentle’ about waving a giant Saltire next to their home which could scare them away from the area forever.
  • Under EU law it is illegal to disturb protected species’ breeding sites or the species themselves.
  • T in the Park has left everything to the last minute. They have 3 months until the festival, they don’t have permission to hold it or prepare for it. They haven’t properly finished preparing their plans including official ecological assessments and mitigation plans. Wildlife charities are also disagreeing with the ecologist (who is mainly a landscaper) being paid to support DF Concerts’ application.
  • Despite this lack of permission they have already begun preparing, including lopping trees and carving out future roads in the turf.
  • There are also rumours from locals of nets put up over kingfisher habitat and the blocking up of otter holes. More ‘gentle encouragement’?
  • Lastly, why does a music festival need to be held next to woodland and a castle? People don’t go to music festivals to see castles…

Whatever the plans, damaging or not, these actions are nothing but disrespect for process, disrespect to nature and a use of dirty tactics to get what they want.

The ospreys have now returned, and they chose their original nest despite the scare tactics. I fear for them and their future offspring if the festival goes ahead. I really hope, alongside many others, that it does not. It will be a disaster for the area, as it is not temporary, six weeks of massive disruption held every summer. A stunning ancient landscape damaged and wildlife evicted, for what? A bit of fun. We need to sort out our priorities, fast.

Hello lovely reader! Well done for stumbling across my blog and my first post on my new site! I’m currently in the process of moving my blog from Blogger to this site at WordPress. To see my previous posts and find out more check out my old blog here:  Enjoy! 😊

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