Travellers fear for their health should they be forced to leave
Children with special needs and adults with chronic illness will suffer if they are put back on the road
Traveller families have warned of a health timebomb if they are forced to quit their homes in St Cyrus.
The residents living at North Esk Park said children with special needs and adults with chronic health problems would be put at risk if they go back on the road.
Rachel McMillan, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, said her three-year-old daughter, Serenity, will lose the health care that has helped improve her condition.
“Living a settled existence here at North Esk has been life-changing for us,” she said.
“It’s been wonderful to see Serenity respond to treatment and my condition is now being properly managed.
“But ever since the Scottish ministers made their decision that the site should close we have been living in fear.”
She said other children would lose out on the education services established on the site and some families would lose the homes in which they have invested their life savings.
The complex appeared on farmland close to the River North Esk in 2013, triggering opposition from residents and leading to a lengthy planning battle.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said the site had flooded in 2002, 2012, 2013 and in the aftermath of Storm Frank in 2015.
Scottish ministers overturned retrospective planning permission granted by Aberdeenshire Council and the Travellers were given until July 2018 to leave.
An action plan has now been put in place by Aberdeenshire Council to ensure compliance and councillors will discuss the situation next week.
On behalf of the residents, planning consultant Alan Seath has sent every councillor a letter explaining the case.
He said: “This site has made such a difference to the Travelling community in Aberdeenshire. People, young and old, are settled.
“They have friends, share land with their extended families, with relationships formed as never experienced before.
“This cannot happen to the same degree when Travellers are permanently on the road.”
Mr Seath said the residents want to avoid the need to vacate the site and that the issue of flooding is the most important one to resolve.
Mr Seath said residents at North Esk have formed a Flood Resilience Group.
A constitution has been written and office-bearers appointed.
He added: “This unprecedented initiative, taken by the Gypsy/Travelling community, demonstrates a commitment to work with others.”
This site has made such a difference to the Travelling community in Aberdeenshire. People, young and old, are settled. ALAN SEATH
Rachel McMillan, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, with her daughter, Serenity. Rachel fears that if the site is closed down and she has to start travelling again, then she may lose the health care that has helped her condition improve.