The long-running row over plans to build an official gypsy traveller camp in the north-east is set to be reopened as councillors prepare to approve the proposals.
Aberdeenshire Council has lodged plans to create a 10-pitch stopover site at Aikey Brae, a disused quarry near the Buchan village of Old Deer.
The project has met with bitter objections from residents and elected officials from the local area have already spoken out against it.
At a meeting of the Buchan area committee earlier this year, local member Jim Ingram said the site should be preserved as an area of historical importance because it played a part in Robert the Bruce’s military campaign in the area.
He backed a suggestion from objector Alexander Thom that the land had potential as a tourist attraction.
The final vote on the scheme – which would go some way to fulfilling the council’s legal duty to accommodate travellers in the north-east – will come just days after startling new figures revealed the extent of illegal encampments in the region.
There were 61 unauthorised gypsy camps recorded by the council last year – the most in any region of Scotland. The authority has accepted that an official site is needed.
On Thursday the proposals to finally establish an official site in Aberdeenshire will be put to a vote at a meeting of the full council.
Planners have recommended the scheme for approval. In a report to councillors, senior planner Alan Davidson said: “An identified need has been established for this proposal and the site will not significantly detract from the amenity of the Old Deer Conservation area.
“The site is adequately serviced and is appropriately located to allow the residents reasonable access to employment, education, health and community facilities.”
In response to the suggestion Aikey Brae be kept as a site of historical importance, Mr Davidson added that the land was most likely the site of a “skirmish” rather than a full battle. He said no hard evidence of fighting on the land in question has been provided.
If approved the traveller site and associated infrastructure is likely to cost around £200,000.