Aikey Brae site for travellers

Aikey Brae, near Old Deer
Aikey Brae, near Old Deer

Councillors have approved plans to create a stopover site for travellers at Aikey Brae, near Old Deer.

At a full council meeting last Thursday, the vote was 36-18 in favour of the project.

The approved plan will see work carried out on halting site with provision for 10 pitches and associated vehicles.

At the meeting, Mairi Stewart, council planning manager, explained the requirement of the authority to identify suitable sites for travellers.

She said the planning service considered key areas including the principle of the development on the site, including compliance with LDP policies and meeting criteria for travellers, the visual impact on the area and other considerations.

She added that there was a proven need for a stopover site due to the number of unauthorised encampments across Aberdeenshire and that the proposal met the requirements of the local development plan.

The director of education assured councillors that the area would be zoned within Maud and school places would be made available. Councillors were also told that granting the application would have a positive impact on the traveller community.

Speaking at the meeting, Central Buchan councillor Norman Smith said that while he recognised the pressures on the council to identify sites for travellers, he didn’t feel this was the correct site as it was close to a busy road and the site experienced flooding.

Fellow councillor Jim Ingram described the site as “disappointing” and said travellers need access to facilities and services which aren’t locally available.

Chair of the Gypsy/Traveller sub-committee, councillor Allan Hendry said that consultation with travellers showed they would use Aikey Brae as a stopover site and he urged his fellow councillors to back the plans.

Councillor Martin Ford seconded councillor Hendry, although he did recognise that Aikey Brae would not fulfil the council’s gypsy/traveller provision.

He said: “We have to start somewhere and this is the place to start.”