Daily Mail: Legacy of Dale Farm: a fly-tippers' paradise

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Fri Jun 22 01:24:02 BST 2012

Legacy of Dale Farm: Nine months after £7m battle 
to remove travellers, the site that was meant to 
be green belt has become a fly-tippers' paradise
By Arthur Martin
PUBLISHED: 23:28, 21 June 2012 | UPDATED: 00:01, 22 June 2012

It was supposed to be turned back into green belt land.
But almost nine months after more than £7million 
was spent evicting travellers at Dale Farm, the 
site has become a dumping ground for fly-tippers.
Industrial waste, rotting food and discarded 
furniture cover what used to be Europe's largest illegal travellers' site.
Rats and foxes now roam across the six-acre plot 
causing potential health risks to homeowners living nearby.
Craters left by the bailiffs' heavy machinery 
have filled with stagnant water. The stench of human waste is overpowering.
Conditions have become so bad that the homeowner 
who led a ten-year campaign to remove the 
travellers said life was better before the eviction.
Len Gridley, 53, whose garden backs on to Dale 
Farm, said yesterday: 'It's worse now than it was 
when the travellers were there. First, I was 
living next to a travellers' site. Now it's a bombsite.
'Either way, no one would want to buy my home. 
The site is an absolute tip and I have rats 
living all along the back of my garden.'
Others say the value of their homes has dropped 
by 20 per cent because of the stigma attached to 
the site. An estimated £50million has been wiped 
off the value of the 400 properties in the 
village of Crays Hill, Essex, since the 
travellers colonised the site in 2001. Basildon 
Council had promised to return the site to 'green belt'


  Part of the illegal site now strewn with 
rubbish and has become a filthy eyesore

Pensioner Henry Scott, who lives nearby, has been 
trying to sell his home for two years, but has had no offers.
He said: 'Who is going to rush to buy a house 
here with Dale Farm and the travellers here?'
Basildon Council evicted the travellers and their 
supporters following a tense stand-off last 
October. The council is now responsible for 
turning it back into green belt land. However, 
council leader Tony Ball hinted that the mess 
would not be cleared until next year.
He said the site, which is owned by the 
travellers, could not be cleared until the 
council had recovered some of the eviction costs.
The council may even seize the site from the 
travellers as an asset to offset its clearance 
costs. It would then be able to clean it quickly.
However, the local authority may face a costly 
and protracted court battle to gain ownership of 
the plot. The travellers, funded by legal aid, 
would almost certainly fight to block the application.
After the successful clean-up operation last 
year, many of the travellers moved onto the legal section of Dale Farm.
And once the bailiffs had left, some families 
parked their caravans and mobile homes along the 
road which approaches the site.
Many are still living illegally on this stretch 
of road, despite attempts to move them on.
One 58-year-old traveller, who refused to be 
named, said: 'The council spent nearly £8million here and for what?
'When we were on the site we kept it clean – now 
look at the place. It's become a local dumping ground.'
A council spokesman said: 'Local authorities can 
only tackle fly-tipping on public land, highways 
and lay-bys. Fly-tipping on private land such as 
the Dale Farm site is the responsibility of the landowner.
'However, we can refer extreme cases that we 
consider detrimental to the environment to the 
Environment Agency, who will decide whether to take further action.'

Read more: 
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