A TREBLING of the cost of policing music festivals is putting some of Scotland's best loved festivals at risk, it has been claimed.

Organisers of the award-winning Eden Festival have joined south of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth in objecting to the soaring police costs which they say is threatening the future of sustainability of events.

The picturesque Dumfries and Galloway area has seen a rise in music festivals, including the 13-year-old Wickerman Festival and fledgling Electric Fields.

The Wickerman Festival moved to say it is still planning to go ahead with the festival next year, after a year out, despite posting a £300,000 loss in 2015 and a net liability of nearly £200,000. The official website is now unavailable.

Notes included with the accounts say just over £113,000 is owed to a creditor which is a business in which the directors are also partners and that business “will not seek repayment of this amount to the detriment of other creditors”.

Director Patsy Gilroy said: “There is an interested party and we’ll see how that is going to go. We are still intending to hold it.”

Eden Festival organisers say flagship community events in Dumfries and Galloway could be forced to relocate because of soaring police costs, which are not being replicated across the rest of Scotland.

An Eden Festival volunteer has published a petition (backed by Eden Festival) asking for a "fair and transparent approach to policing, and a re-instatement of the 50% discount for not-for-profit events in Dumfries and Galloway".

Eden Festival co-director Adam Curtis said: “The issue of D&G festivals being overcharged by Police Scotland has reached such a point that it is becoming unviable to hold such an event in D&G.

"If this issue then rolls out across Scotland it will force music festivals south of the border, far from enhancing Scotland as the 'Perfect Stage for Events', it may just put Scotland at a large unattractive disadvantage”.

Commenting on the challenges facing event organisers the local MSP Colin Smyth raised the issue during a recent debate on Scotland’s events industry.

He said: “In 2015, the policing bill for the Eden festival was £12,000 for a licensed audience of 8,000. This year it is £38,000, an increase of more than 300 per cent.

"The Electric Fields festival had a bill of £1,600 for 2,000 people last year; this year it is £19,000 for an audience of 5,000, albeit over two days.

"Notwithstanding the perception of overpolicing, the charges by Police Scotland are well above those in England, undermining and risking events in rural areas and putting Scotland at a competitive disadvantage with our near neighbours.”

In January, last year, Wickerman organisers decided the venet would not go ahead in 2015, for the first time since it began in 2002.

They took a year off even though fans have already bought early bird tickets. They were to receive an automatic refund.

The 2014 festival went ahead, despite doubts whether it would go ahead after the death of Wickerman's co-founder, Jamie Gilroy, who was found at his farm in Dumfries and Galloway with serious head injuries believed to have been caused by a firearm in December 2014. He was 66.

His daughter Jennie Camm, who lives and works in Tanzania, took on the task of festival director, and said then that she was ready to rise to the task of ensuring this event was staged and had said she was determined to continue her father's work for the foreseeable future.

Organisers ha previously insisted that plans were under way for 2017’s event, which was to take place on July 21 and 22.

It is understood the family just need a break.

Mrs Gilroy had admitted that the loss was one of the reasons the festival did not go ahead last year.

“The festival industry is quite volatile at the moment," she said. "The costs have gone up so much and you can’t put up the ticket prices any more.

“When we started out we had our own police force in Dumfries and Galloway.”

The award-winning festival began 12 years ago as a local event attracting just 1,500 paying music lovers, inspired by the cult 1970s film of the same name. 

It was  turned into one of the premier events on Scotland's festival calendar and now regularly attracts nearly 20,000 revellers.

Police in Dumfries were approached for comment.