A multi-agency rescue effort converged on a controversial Mearns Travellers site as fears mounted for their safety during Wednesday’s Storm Frank flooding.
As communities along the North and South Esk became increasingly concerned for the safety of their homes and businesses due to rising water, the residents of North Esk Park, at St Cyrus, were asked to leave their caravans.
Coastguard and Police Scotland units asked for backup in the belief that some residents were refusing to cooperate.
But site spokesman James McCallum said the site would not flood, that most families were already taking their caravans away for New Year, and police would have been better served attending to other areas.
Concern arose only days after The Courier revealed a report by consultants claiming the site does not lie within a flood plain.
The risk of flooding was one of the main reasons that retrospective planning permission for the site was refused earlier this year.
Tayside Division police officers took the decision to close the sole access from the minor road at Northwater Bridge as it became impassable to anything but four-wheeled drive vehicles.
More than eight police vans and marked cars attended along with two fire engines and several Coastguard officers, who were monitoring the rising North Esk.
Both the viaduct and road bridge were also checked for structural weaknesses as waters rose.
It is understood some families left by car before the single track on to the A92 became impassable.
A spokeswoman for Scottish Fire and Rescue’s Dundee control said some residents were “refusing to leave”.
“We’re in attendance at Lower Northwater Bridge,” she said. “The call came in from the police and they believed it to be a Traveller site that was flooding.
“They were refusing to leave. We’ve sent one pump from Montrose and they’ve just asked for another one.”
Consultants SLR were asked to undertake a new flood risk and drainage assessment by North Esk Investments Ltd, which has submitted a new retrospective planning application for a 10-stance caravan park and touring site.
Their prediction shows the site would be “moderately affected” by flooding for three to four hours at the peak of a 1 in 200 year flood when climate change is taken into account. Other parts of the site will remain free from flooding.
But the consultants recommended that residents at the touring site part of the encampment consider evacuation when there is a flood warning.
One St Cyrus resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I think this gives a pretty clear indication that there is a huge risk for those living there.
“But this could have all been avoided. I’m sure all those police and emergency services people were badly needed elsewhere.”