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T in the Park venue in doubt after HSE raise risk of oil pipeline accident

T in the Park faces an uncertain future at its long-term home in Balado after organisers agreed to relocate the festival away from a potentially dangerous oil pipeline next year.

The festival is likely to go ahead as planned in its existing location this summer but organisers DF Concerts will have to make alternative arrangements in 2015, Perth and Kinross Council (P&KC) has said.

Organisers hope to redesign the site to avoid the pipeline but they have not found a way around it yet, raising the prospect that they may have to find an alternative location in 2015.

The lack of a suitable alternative has forced organisers to apply for a one-year extension to its existing layout this summer.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has raised persistent objections to 85,000 revellers being allowed to party near a major oil pipeline, which runs from the North Sea to a processing plant near Grangemouth.

An accident could cause "a large number of casualties" and result in people receiving "a dangerous dose of thermal radiation", according to HSE.

But they have agreed not to refer their objections to Scottish Ministers this year, provided T in the Park moves away from the site from next year onward.

Papers submitted to P&KC state: "With the reassurances that have been given at pre-application stage by all parties that events on this site will cease after 2014 and that this is the final year being sought on site, HSE confirm that although they advise against the development, they would not invite Scottish Ministers to call in the application should a recommendation for planning approval on the basis set out above, be referred to Scottish Government for clearance.

"It has been made clear by the applicant that they are seeking an alternative site outwith the pipeline consultation zones but unfortunately they have not been able to secure a site to host the event in 2014 at this time, hence the submission of this further application."

A DF Concerts spokeswoman said: "Throughout the years T in the Park has gone through a meticulous system of planning and safety checks which we have always passed, including this year.

"Nothing has changed in the last few years except HSE protocol. The pipeline remains in the same position as always, which means that it also continues to run underneath schools and Aberdeen airport's runway.

"Over the last couple of years we have complied with the change in HSE protocol by reorienting parts of the site to move away from the exclusion zone. Everyone from the Scottish Government to the HSE have approved of this and we will continue to shift the site as required and dependent on our needs."

A HSE spokesman said: "We broadly support the principle of a temporary planning consent for 2014 alone, to complete relocation of the event beyond HSE's consultation zones around the BP Forties pipeline.

"This should enable Perth & Kinross Council to make an informed decision about risks to the public when determining permission.

"HSE has consistently advised Perth & Kinross Council against granting planning permission because in our view the public safety risks it presents mean the site is not suitable for an event of this scale and nature.

"With large numbers of people in close proximity to a major hazard pipeline, our view is that the proposed development raises safety issues of substantial concern. However, we must stress any decision on planning permission for T in the Park is for Perth & Kinross Council."

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