Aberdeenshire Council has formally ordered work to stop on an Aberdeenshire site locals fear could be made into a travellers halting site.
The council has issued a temporary stop notice on the site at Middlemuir, Whitecairns, after becoming aware of unauthorised works being carried out.
Local residents fear travellers are attempting to build a halting site in the field, after noticing a digger apparently flattening the land to make way for at least 10 caravan pitches.
They became suspicious and raised the alarm with Aberdeenshire Council after they spotted a septic tank hidden behind a stable in the field, and noticed work was continuing over New Year.
A council spokesman said investigations had shown unauthorised excavation and the formation of soil bunding and hard-standing had been carried out.
Officers have now served a temporary stop notice to prevent any further work on the site, once occupied by the former Aberdeen Equestrian Centre.
Robert Gray, head of planning for the council, said: “This notice requires the unauthorised work to cease with immediate effect and has been served following complaints from local residents and our own investigations.”
If the order is breached, the council may take legal action.