St Cyrus residents have told councillors to “stand firm” and kick Travellers off an illegal Mearns housing estate as scheduled.
Just weeks before the date set by Scottish Ministers for residents to leave the North Esk Park site, Aberdeenshire councillors will be asked on Thursday to delay their eviction by at least six months to avoid the authority having to take “direct action”.
Councillors will decide if the delay can be granted to allow time for a “suitable alternative” site or a new planning application to be submitted.
One objector who has been at the heart of the local battle against the development said she would be hugely surprised if the extension is not granted.
But she warned that Aberdeenshire councillors would be letting down residents living near the site if they give approval.
“You couldn’t make it up and the longer it goes on the less likely they are to leave the site,” she said.
“It’s almost as if this is a fait accompli but we are calling on councillors to stand firm and adhere to the Scottish Ministers decision.
“It will be five years come September since they first pitched up at the site and I just despair of it.”
After refusing planning permission and instigating enforcement action, Aberdeenshire councillors voted to grant permission for the creation of an official halting and touring site in April 2016.
The application was called in when Sepa objected because the site had flooded on a number of occasions, including in the aftermath of Storm Frank in 2015 when residents were forced from their caravans.
Scottish Ministers then overturned the retrospective planning permission and the Travellers were given until July 31 2018 to leave.
The authority has admitted there is no chance the July 31 enforcement notice deadline will be met, putting residents in the “serious situation of non-compliance”.
The local resident said it remains a “completely inappropriate site” and councillors “can’t just ignore” the Scottish Ministers recommendation.
“Surely this was the whole reason it was taken out of Aberdeenshire Council’s hands?” she said.
“Nobody appealed the decision but now nine months down the line they say they can’t throw them out.”
Area manager Willie Munro said the ultimate aim of the site being vacated and reinstated can still be achieved if necessary.
In terms of the identification of a new site, the original promoter of the site said it would need to be located in an area within the southern Mearns, no further north than Laurencekirk or Inverbervie.
The report reveals 16 potential sites have been examined, with only four identified as possible alternatives.