St Cyrus Travellers site to be referred to Scottish Government

Travellers at a site in St Cyrus have been allowed to settle at the park they built three years ago.

At the full Aberdeenshire Council meeting last Thursday, councillors were asked to consider a second bid for retrospective planning permission for North Esk Park.

The elected members voted 41-24 in favour of the site, which was built in September 2013. There was one no vote.

The main reason the planning permission was approved was due the lack of other halting sites for travellers in Kincardine and Mearns.

Prior to the meeting, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) concluded the site was on a flood plain. The matter will be referred to Scottish Government ministers due to the formal objection by SEPA.

William Docherty, owner of North Esk Park, said: “We are all thrilled following the decision of Aberdeenshire’s Full Council last Thursday. The investment into months of excellent work has provided residents with a step in the right direction to securing North Esk Park as their permanent home.

“I would like to thank the councillors who supported the proposals and the team of professionals who made this possible. We await the outcome of the Scottish Governments decision related to call-in.”

The planning permission was subject conditions, including the site having compensatory water storage, the provision of a flood emergency plan, the removal of a bund, landscaping to improve amenity of neighbours and that there be no development within the Sites of Special Scientific Interest boundary.

At the meeting, Councillor William Howatson moved a motion to reject the application. He stated that the force and scale of the water in the River North Esk in December led to residents being evacuated.

He highlighted that Scottish Government policy stated caravan sites should not be located in areas of high flood risk and that the Kincardine and Means area committee concluded unanimously that the application be rejected. This was seconded by Councillor George Carr, who highlighted the impact on neighbouring businesses.

The news has been met with mixed feelings on social media with some in favour of and others shocked and disappointed at the decision.

We attempted to speak to local residents to get their reactions. They declined to comment.