St Cyrus Trav­ellers de­ci­sion crit­i­cised by hu­man rights group

SITE: Rul­ing to have set­tle­ment cleared ‘dis­ap­point­ing’ – but backed by provost of Ab­erdeen­shire

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - RICHARD WATT ri­watt@the­courier.co.uk

The de­ci­sion to clear a con­tro­ver­sial Mearns Trav­eller site has been crit­i­cised as “dis­ap­point­ing for all” by a hu­man rights group.

North Esk Park near St Cyrus was de­vel­oped vir­tu­ally overnight in 2013, prompt­ing a four-year ar­gu­ment be­tween res­i­dents con­cerned at in­creased flood risk and Trav­ellers fight­ing for their right to re­main.

Ab­erdeen­shire Coun­cil gave ret­ro­spec­tive per­mis­sion for the site, which lies along the North Esk’s banks on the county bor­der with An­gus, in 2016.

But this was called in at Holy­rood and re­versed by a min­is­te­rial rep­re­sen­ta­tive on Thurs­day.

A re­porter said the life-threat­en­ing risk of flood­ing out­weighs the need for a Trav­eller site in that area.

Landowner Wil­liam Mac­don­ald has been given un­til the end of July 2018 to clear the set­tle­ment, which has de­vel­oped into a fully-fledged clus­ter of homes with power and drainage.

The pe­riod for re­moval has been ex­tended to mit­i­gate dis­rup­tion to fam­i­lies who live there.

A spokesman for Mr Mac­don­ald’s or­gan­i­sa­tion, at Monarch of the Glen car­a­van park in Montrose, said it was too early to dis­cuss the case.

“We are not in a po­si­tion to make a com­ment on this at the mo­ment,” he said.

“We are tak­ing le­gal ad­vice and it wouldn’t be ap­pro­pri­ate.”

A Court of Ses­sion ap­peal against the de­ci­sion would have to be lodged within six weeks.

Lynne Tammi, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Montrose-based Ar­ti­cle 12 in Scot­land, said the park’s res­i­dents had “lit­tle choice” but to build their own houses due to a lack of suit­able ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“This is dis­ap­point­ing for all con­cerned,” she said.

“While the in­ten­tions of the ex­tended pe­riod for com­pli­ance is wel­come, there can be no doubt­ing the im­pact this will have on the chil­dren who have set­tled into schools in the area.”

Mearns Lib­eral Demo­crat coun­cil­lor and Ab­erdeen­shire Provost Bill Howat­son said he sup­ported the Scot­tish En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Agency’s (Sepa) view that the flood risk was too great.

“In my view it was fun­da­men­tally wrong to al­low de­vel­op­ment of this na­ture on a flood plain,” he said.

“This was also the con­sid­ered opin­ion of Sepa and there can be no ar­gu­ment that flood­ing has oc­curred over the years on that site.”

“There can be no doubt­ing the im­pact this will have on the chil­dren who have set­tled into schools in the area. LYNNE TAMMI

The con­tro­ver­sial Trav­ellers site at St Cyrus will now have to be cleared. Pic­ture: Paul Reid.

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