An illegal Travellers’ site in St Cyrus contains “far more” properties than set out in a retrospective planning application, it has been claimed.
Environmental watchdog SEPA has raised the issue before a key meeting about the controversial site.
SEPA is also seeking urgent clarification following notification from Aberdeenshire Council over a new notice of ownership of the land at North Esk Park in St Cyrus.
A submitted certificate shows that part of the land which would be used for a touring site is owned by Martin Raymond Eardley Stanfield who lives in a plush apartment block in Monaco.
Sepa has also produced a new aerial picture of the site which it claims shows “far more caravans and buildings than set out in the planning application”.
Despite the new ownership, the watchdog also confirmed its position on drainage “remains unchanged as there are many unanswered questions relating to these matters”.
Sepa planning manager Jim Mackay said: “It is not clear if the figures for population equivalent and drainage are correct as set out in the section entitled ‘Foul Drainage Design Note’.
“Table 2-1 in this document indicates 12 mobile homes on the private site and nine pitches with eight people per pitch on the halting site with a population equivalent of 120.
“Aerial photography seems to indicate far more caravans and buildings on site than set out in the planning applications and different to that allowed for in the drainage statement.
“Clarification on population equivalent would therefore seem to be required.”
Sepa has already objected to the retrospective planning application for North Esk Park, which is already heavily developed, before it is considered by Aberdeenshire Council, whose own environmental officers are also against it.
Retrospective plans were lodged for a 10-stance caravan park and nine-stance halting site in the latest stage of a bitter six-year fight for approval.
Sepa has also told the council it wants to speak at council meetings which will be held to determine the applications.
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.
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 Sepa objected, 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 now been put on hold until the two fresh planning applications, which were received in December, are considered by the Kincardine and Mearns area committee, before determination by Aberdeenshire Council next month.