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Fears over threat of ‘hidden historic snares’ as locals fight plans for new Travellers site in north-east field

Aberdeenshire Council has formed plans to create space for three caravans in a field at Smallburn, near Mintlaw.

Dozens of locals are fighting plans to create a new Travellers site outside a north-east village.

Aberdeenshire Council has formed plans to create space for three caravans in a field at Smallburn, near Mintlaw.

This week councillors heard that the facility is badly needed to provide Traveller families with somewhere to stay.

But locals have raised a litany of complaints claiming that the spot isn’t suitable for such a development.

Is there quicksand in nearby forest?

One concerned Hatton resident has even tried arguing that Travellers staying at the site could find themselves injured by rusty poaching equipment left behind from days gone by.

In her letter of objection, Lesley Penny said: “I strongly believe that there are still a number of hidden historic snares there left from past poachers.

“Our family pet was snared by a poachers trap and lost the use of his hind legs then a couple of years later disappeared into the wood and it is believed that he got into sinking sand, could not get out and died.”

‘Detrimental effect on my family’

Fellow Hatton resident, Kevin Flett, raised issues about “unreliable drainage” at the site, poor public transport links and the possibility of noise coming from the caravans in his letter to the council.

Roslynn Keating lives adjacent to the field in question, and said the proposal has given her “a great deal of concern and worry”.

She added: “I strongly feel that it would have a detrimental effect on my family. We should not have the worry of having our water contaminated.”

Other concerns raised included the possibility that the number of Travellers on the site would be equal to the number of residents already living in the Smallburn community.

Several people argued that there was no need for another Traveller site so close to the council’s Aikey Brae camp six miles away at Maud.

Some argue that having more authorised sites will mean Travellers won’t have to stay in places like the old AECC site, as seen here earlier this month. Picture by Wullie Marr

It has 10 pitches, and a site office, and the maximum stay allowed there is two weeks.

Members of the Buchan area committee were asked to comment on the application on Tuesday, before a later meeting to decide its fate.

Two applications similar to this had previously been submitted to Aberdeenshire Council but were refused.

The last blueprint submitted in 2019 was binned as it was not made clear whether a suitable water supply and drainage system could service the site.

Councillors urged to visit Smallburn

Objectors have urged councillors to visit the site before making any decisions to see their worries for themselves.

Commenting at the meeting, committee chairman Norman Smith said he still had concerns about the water supply and drainage and hoped more information could be supplied before a final decision is made.

Councillor Jim Ingram said that if council officers were happy with the quality and volume of water supply and the proposed waste water treatment then councillors were “obliged to support” the plans.

Councillor Stephen Calder noted that there are “very limited established Gypsy Traveller sites in the Buchan part of Aberdeenshire”.

He said refusing the plan could “potentially leave the family with nowhere to live and limit their access to education and local services”.

Travellers ordered to move on from old AECC car park

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