St Cyrus reports very few issues with travellers’ site

The unauthorised North Esk caravan site at St Cyrus.
The unauthorised North Esk caravan site at St Cyrus.

The deadline for an enforcement order to demolish the North Esk caravan site at St Cyrus has passed, but some residents say they have welcomed the travellers.

Officers from Aberdeenshire Council served enforcement notices on the unauthorised traveller site in St Cyrus, built on a flood plain, following the end of the period allowed for an appeal on the refusal of planning permission back in April.

The deadline for this was October 3 but a fresh appeal has now been lodged.

Gordon Lyon, a spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council, said: “It was necessary to investigate land ownership at the site to allow enforcement notices to be served on the correct people, which has now been done.

“At this stage caravans, buildings and related infrastructure have to be removed, and the site reinstated within six months. Eleven months has been given to reinstate the SSSI by the re-seeding at the appropriate time in that area.

“The travellers have to go somewhere. Aberdeenshire Council, if it evicts these travellers, will have to re-home them somewhere else at great cost. Any normal person won’t want to see a family evicted from their house but they do require retrospective planning and there is still a flooding issue. They built the site without permission and the correct procedure must be followed. We want to be able to provide a travellers site in Aberdeenshire but it’s difficult to find a suitable place for them.“

When we spoke to people in the village the general consensus in St Cyrus was positive.

One resident said: “Why not let a peaceful people sit, have their own life, their own park? They maintain it, they pay their bills.

‘‘They should be left alone to let them get on with what they want to do, they are not causing any problems and they are all hard workers. It’s like a properly regulated park, neat and tidy.”

Another resident told us: “ I would say they are very polite, never any trouble, as regards bringing money to the community I think they spend a lot here. I certainly have no issues with them.”

A Mercury Terrace resident said: “They’re not doing any harm. I’d rather have them there than on the roadside.”

However, a St Cyrus businessman said: “I’d like to build on a field I own but I’ve had planning refused. Saying that, they haven’t been any trouble in the village.”

And another villager said: “I am disappointed its one rule for us and one rule for them. We had to go by the rules to get planning for our extension.”

William Docherty, co-owner and spokesperson at North Esk, said: “To be honest we get on with 95 per cent of the local settled community but there will always be a few who don’t want us here.

‘‘Members of the public are welcome to come down here and have a walk around. We are really trying to settle down here, we need a permanent address so our kids can go to school and be educated and we can register with a doctor.

“It’s really hard travelling on this side of the A90. Here we have created a gated community, well run and clean, we have a toilet block and laundry facilities.

‘‘Half the site is for settled travellers and the other half is a halting site for travellers in transit.

“We have a warden who looks after the park. She has strict rules and any family feuds or trouble of any type results in the family being removed.”

William said they were submitting new plans for retrospective planning. These would be very detailed and mention the reinstatement of the SSSI which lies adjacent to the site.

He also said the cost was huge to the travellers.

They had spent literally hundreds of thousands on the plans, architects, lawyers and consultants in order to comply with the council.

William said: “We have saved the Aberdeenshire Council in the region of four or five million pounds.

‘‘We don’t need taxpayers ‘money to run this - we are doing it by ourselves.”