Objectors against an unauthorised Travellers’ site at St Cyrus have been branded “ill-informed, discriminatory, unfair and irrational”.
The planning consultant leading the application to win retrospective approval at North Esk Park suggested there has been an “orchestrated campaign of objections based on reasons other than planning considerations”.
Alan Seath, writing to Aberdeenshire Council on behalf of his clients, said many of those who have contacted the council “lack knowledge of the subject matter and planning procedures”.
It comes after retrospective planning applications were lodged for a 10-stance caravan park and halting site at North Esk Park in the latest stage in a five-year fight for approval.
Despite a protracted legal battle between the Travellers and Aberdeenshire Council, development on the unauthorised site has continued since the first homes appeared on farmland close to the River North Esk in 2013.
Among those objecting to the latest bid for permission is Kath Smith, whose Eskview Farm B&B is next to the land in question.
She said there appeared to be a clear case for a vote of no confidence in Aberdeenshire Council’s planning system which “warrants the demand of a full public enquiry”.
Mr Seath said: “If the planning process determines that there should be an inquiry you can be assured that consideration will be given to calling some objectors as witnesses by our legal team.”
In suggesting an orchestrated campaign of objections, Mr Seath pointed to the geographic spread of protests which have included submissions from Dundee, Cowdenbeath, Edinburgh and Lancashire.
Mr Seath said the vast majority of the local population in St Cyrus have not submitted any objection which “puts a more positive spin on the retrospective developments”.
“What is also encouraging is that letters of objection are outweighed by letters of support,” he said.
“The majority of the local population recognise that the residents of North Esk have integrated well into the local community.
“A place has been created which the families regard as a safe and secure location they can call their home or have somewhere to stop on their travels.
“This meets the objectives of the Scottish Government, in other words, social integration and the creation of sites where Travellers can exercise their rights to travel in accordance with the culture and lifestyle.”
Aberdeenshire councillors voted overwhelmingly to grant retrospective permission for the creation of an official halting site in 2016.
However, the application was called in by the Scottish Government when the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) objected after revealing the site had flooded in 2002, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Scottish ministers overturned the retrospective permission and the Travellers were given until July 31 to clear the site.
The local authority then agreed to extend the deadline by six months and has been involved in “continued dialogue” with the North Esk community.
Enforcement action has been put on hold until the two fresh planning applications, which were received in December, are considered.
The retrospective applications will initially be considered by the Kincardine and Mearns area committee before determination by Aberdeenshire Council, potentially at its April 25 meeting.