Progress of stopover site to be discussed by councillors

Aikey Brae near Old Deer
Aikey Brae near Old Deer

Councillors are being asked to consider progressing plans for a traveller stopover site near Old Deer.

Aberdeenshire Council has been investigating the possible use of a disused quarry at Aikey Brae as an official stopover site, having previously been used by travellers visiting the area.

Members of the Policy and Resources Committee will consider the issue, and whether to progress the plans with the submission of a planning application, at a meeting on Thursday, September 19 (today).

The public response to proposals for an authorisedtraveller stopover site near Old Deer will be considered by councillors as part of the discussion.

The proposals for Aikey Brae would see the creation of 14 pitches and a water access point. When in use, the council would provide one portable toilet per family and collect waste on a weekly basis.

In January the Policy and Resources Committee referred the proposal to the Buchan Area Committee, where councillors agreed that local consultation should be held to help inform the final decision.

More than 60 people attended a public meeting held at Kemp Hall in Old Deer on May 13.

A presentation on the challenges faced by the traveller community using unauthorised sites, including access to services and education, was delivered to the audience. Strong views were expressed at the meeting, with members of the public raising concerns over crime and the clear-up of sites. A petition of 375 names opposing the proposal has been received.

Consultation with travellers has been ongoing since May and feedback suggests that members of the travelling community would use Aikey Brae if it were developed as a stopover site, with an optimum stay there of up to six weeks.

If a planning application is submitted for a stopover site at Aikey Brae, the local community will be given a further opportunity to comment on the proposal.

A planning application is likely to be heard by a meeting of the full council, as the establishment of a traveller site has regional implications.