Councillors to discuss Aikey Brae travellers site

Aikey Brae near Old Deer
Aikey Brae near Old Deer

Options for the development of Aikey Brae as a stopover site for travelling people will be discussed by councillors on Thursday.

A full meeting of Aberdeenshire Council will consider three possible uses for the council-owned land at Old Deer.

Unauthorised traveller encampments are an escalating problem throughout the North-east and have been blamed mainly on the lack of available private and public sites.

The stopover proposals for Aikey Brae have triggered strong opposition in the community. A 375-signature petition has been gathered.

And residents who attended a public meeting in Mintlaw in February this year were fiercely opposed to the plans.

The council has since reviewed and refreshed the plans to address some of the concerns voiced by residents.

Councillors will look at three options for the site at Thursday’s meeting in Aberdeen.

The first would bring the land up to an acceptable standard to create 14 pitches, fencing, hard-standing areas, landscaping and a fresh water supply at a cost of £315,000.

The second would be a reduced version of the first option with less landscaping, fencing and small pitch sizes at a cost of £215,000. Meanwhile, the third would involve minimal improvements with eight pitches, a fresh water supply and basic fencing at a cost of £50,000.

Consultation with travellers in the region has indicated they would use the Aikey Brae.

If agreed the proposals would be the subject of a planning application with a chance for the local community to comment as part of the statutory application process.

Should a planning application be lodged, it would be considered by the full council given the regional significance of the development.

Officers are suggesting that an application is lodged to use the land as a stopover site and that the area is controlled and managed by the local authority as an authorised site.

Aikey Brae has been used for fairs for hundreds of years.

At first the main focus was on horse-trading but as it grew in size and popularity, stalls and sideshows were introduced.

The fair dates back to 1661, and the event co-incided with the feast day - in mid-July - of the patron saint of the parish, St Drostan.